Cablegate: Anibalzinho Escapes Again, Grm Embarrassed

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) On May 9, Anibal dos Santos Junior once again escaped
from maximum security prison, creating a highly embarrassing
situation for the GRM. "Anibalzinho" was serving the 28-year
sentence he received in absentia in January 2003 for his
central role in the November 2000 murder of journalist Carlos
Cardoso. He had previously escaped in August 2002 and was
apprehended in South Africa the day before his sentence was
handed down. As with his previous escape, many commentators
speculate that he was allowed to escape because he could
reveal information damaging to government officials.

2. (SBU) The public has reacted the escape with disgust,
disappointment, and derision. Schoolchildren have even taken
to playing a game in which one child, playing "Anibazinho,"
is allowed to walk out the open door. The influential weekly
"Savana" has encouraged government ministers to accept
responsibility and resign. Some commentators have pointed to
the escape as proof that crime syndicates control the
government. Those with a weakness for conspiracy theories
are certain that this time dos Santos was killed to prevent
any revelations that could bring down powerful people.

3. (U) President Chissano has announced that recapture of the
escaped prisoner is "essential and imperative," because "it
would help the authorities to clarify a number of other
criminal cases that he knows." Three officers from the
prison have been detained as suspects for facilitating his
escape. The Attorney General's Office was questioning others
in the prison who were convicted along with dos Santos for
the Cardoso murder in additional follow-up investigations on
related charges. These investigations also allegedly
involved the BCM bank fraud. One of those being questioned,
Nini Satar, is a key defendant in the BCM trail and claims
that he called Anti-Corruption Unit Chief Isabel Rupia on May
4 to warn her that Anibalzinho was going to escape.

4. (SBU) On May 18, Ambassador and USAID Director attended a
government event which featured numerous speakers, including
President Chissano and the Minister of Justice. Speaking on
behalf of the G-15 donors group, the Swiss Cooperation
Director delivered a strong criticism of the GRM legal reform
effort. He described results to date as unsatisfactory and
expressed shock at the escape, describing it as a serious
blow to the credibility of the government's reform. He
referred to the recent joint review exercise and the finding
that the delays in investigation and resolution of serious
cases such as these financial crimes, along with the
unresolved murders such as the Siba-Siba case, leave a strong
impression of impunity.

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