Journalist arrested over vampire story
Police in Malawi have arrested and released a radio broadcaster who interviewed a man claiming to have been attacked by mysterious bloodsuckers.
The bizarre rumors that the government is working with vampires to collect human blood for international aid agencies have been circulating in the impoverished southern African country since late last year. Police have been ordered by President Bakili Muluzi to arrest anyone found spreading the rumor.
Maganizo Mazeze, the community radio broadcaster, was arrested Jan. 19 for not giving detailed information about the interview that aired the previous day. Several vigilante attacks have occurred during the previous month, including the stoning death of one man, beating death of another, and an attack and near lynching of three priests in the south by angry villagers. An aid group’s encampment that was feared to be a vampire headquarters was also destroyed.
Police spokesman George Chikowi says that Mazeze has not identified the alleged victim, “meaning the story is a fabrication and aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the government.” Mazeze appeared in court Monday and faced charges of “broadcasting/publishing false news likely to cause public unrest.” All charges were dismissed by the court because police did not have an arrest warrant.
Earlier the same day, Magistrate Diana Mangwana granted bail to 19 suspects charged with conduct likely to breach the peace in connection with an attack on a ruling party official believed to be harboring vampires. Mazeze said he will continue to interview people who claim to have been attacked by vampires.
Photographers say israeli police beat them
Two Israeli border policemen beat photographers for The Associated Press and the French news agency Agence France-Press (AFP) as the photographers attempted to photograph troops driving quickly down a street as two Palestinian teens clung to the vehicle’s hood.
Nasser Ishtayeh, a Palestinian photographer for the AP, suffered no serious injuries, but he did receive bruises on one ear and the side of his face. He visited a local clinic to be examined.
The AP has made a complaint to the Israeli army and demanded that the incident be looked into and that the soldiers be punished. The military said it is investigating the incident.
The photographer with AFP, Jafar Ishtayeh, headed out with Ishtayeh to check a report that stones were being thrown by youths during curfew at Israeli forces. The Ishtayehs are related distantly.
Six convicted in murder of crusading journalist
Six men have been convicted and will serve sentences of more than 20 years in Mozambique for the murder of Carlos Cardoso. Cardoso was an investigative journalist who reported on the country’s banking scandals and government corruption.
One of the convicted gunmen, Anibal dos Santos Junio (commonly known as “Anibalzhino”), was sentenced in absentia after he fled the country. He was captured in South Africa and extradited to Mozambique.
“There is a sense here that the verdict is more than expected,” said Phillip Van Niekerk, a South African journalist who has reported frequently from Mozambique and was a friend of Cardoso’s. “People are glad because the sentences are very harsh.”
Cardoso, who edited the independent business newsletter Metical, which he also founded, was murdered Nov. 22, 2000, as he was leaving his office. His driver testified that a vehicle approached at high speed and he was shot in the head, at which time he lost consciousness and the murderers then shot Cardoso.