Cablegate: Mozambique: Five Escape From Maputo Police
PP RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR
DE RUEHTO #1555 3360534
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020534Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4686
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS MAPUTO 001555
E.O. 1295: N/A
TAGS: KCRM CKOR PGOV MZ
SUBJECT: MOZAMBIQUE: FIVE ESCAPE FROM MAPUTO POLICE
COMMAND; WAS ANIBALZINHO TO HAVE FLED TOO?
1. (U) On November 26 five prisoners, including a suspect
in the October 21 murder of then-Director of the Maputo
Central Prison Jorge Microsse (ref A), escaped from
high-security holding cells at the Maputo City Police
Command, according to media sources. On November 30
independent daily fax news sheet "MediaFAX" reported
that the breakout was part of an unsuccessful
operation to free Anibal dos Santos Junior (Anibalzinho),
the man convicted of leading the group responsible for
the November 2000 murder of Mozambique's foremost
investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso. In 2003
Anibalzinho was tried and convicted in absentia for
his role in the Cardoso murder; he had escaped from
Maputo's Maximum Security Prison and was at large at
the time of the trial.
Captured and returned to jail, in May 2004 Anibalzinho
made a second escape from the same maximum security
facility. He was eventually arrested in Canada and
deported back to Mozambique in January 2005 (ref B).
Since then he has been held at the Maputo City Police Command,
considered a more secure facility, awaiting a retrial
(the Supreme Court overruled the in abstentia
conviction on a technicality). This alleged escape
attempt occurred just days before the December 1 start
of Anibalzinho's retrial.
2. (SBU) A police communiqui issued on November 30
confirmed the escape of the five prisoners, but claimed
the incident occurred in the early morning hours of
November 28, and made no mention of any attempt to free
Anibalzinho. In a December 1 meeting with Emboffs,
the police stated that several police and prison
guards had been detained in connection with the escape of
the five prisoners and denied any connection between the
escape and a wider operation to free Anibalzinho.
In a follow-up conversation with MediaFAX' editor, the
daily continued to back its story, claiming that
well-placed police and Ministry of Interior contacts
are certain that Anibalzinho was to have been
freed also. The sources indicated that the operation
was carefully planned and involved payoffs to prison
guards for their complicity. The escape apparently was
foiled by a new prison guard not in on the plot.
3. (U) On November 29 Minister of Interior Pacheco
acknowledged on television that there are significant
weaknesses in the state of security at Maputo's
Maximum Security Prison and the City Police Command.
On December 1 he convened a high-level meeting with police
commanders to discuss internal security strategies and
the fight against corruption within the police force.
4. (SBU) Comment: MediaFax is considered one of the most
reliable of the independent journals. Another escape
by Anibalzinho, just before his trial, would have greatly
embarrassed the Guebuza government. That said, analysts
we have talked with doubt his retrial will produce any
significant revelations beyond what emerged in 2003.
The successful escape of five prisoners from the most
secure facility in the country compounds growing unease
over rising crime and the ineffectiveness of the Mozambican