Angolan Regime Lays 11 Charges against Journalist

The journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais has been summoned for questioning on Tuesday 23 July by Angola’s National Directorate of Investigation and Penal Action (DNIAP), for a record total of eleven charges brought against him simultaneously.

by Maka Angola – July 20, 2013

The Angolan summons comes shortly on the heels of a Portuguese court clearing Marques of all defamation charges earlier this year, brought by a group of Angolan generals who were named in serious human rights abuses in pursuit of diamond mining concessions.

By lodging a new criminal complaint against Marques, the Angolan judicial authorities however seek to re-open the case the generals had lost in Portugal, thereby ignoring the universal legal concept of double jeopardy.

The summons, dated 17 July, is in connection with case numbers 13-DNIAP 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 and 58/2013. The last-named case was transferred from the Organised Crime Division of the National Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DNIC) to DNIAP. Case 58/2013 was brought by civilian shareholders and managers of Sociedade Mineira do Cuango and ATM-Mining who were mentioned in Marques’s book Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola.

However, the DNIAP notice makes clear that in the first ten cases Marques is an arguido – a term in Angolan law for someone who is officially a formal suspect – while in the last case, 58/2013, he is simultaneously arguido and state witness.

A law professor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, said it was “judicial schizophrenia” to have the same person named both as arguido and as state witness in the same case.

The professor explained that “the witness is there to help the state and who collaborates in prosecuting the arguido, which is why this is absurd. No one can simultaneously be accused of a crime and be made a state witness [against himself, the accused]”.

On 3 April, Marques was interrogated and named an arguido at DNIC’s Organised Crime Division on suspicion of defamation resulting from his book, which was published in Portugal in 2011.  The book details dozens of cases of killing, hundreds of cases of torture, forced displacement and intimidation against villagers and diamond diggers in Cuango and Xá-Muteba districts in Lunda Norte province.

Two months later, on June 6, a dozen local and international organizations petitioned the Angolan Attorney-General on behalf of the journalist to end the prosecution related to his exposé of blood diamonds in Angola. “The previous and current cases in Portugal against Mr. Marques [de Morais] are a matter of public record. Thus any libel case against Mr. Marques [de Morais] in Angola threatens the principle of double jeopardy, which under Angolan law constitutes a peremptory defence,” they wrote. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), National Endowment for Democracy, Transparency International, and Global Witness were among the signatories of the petition.

This week Marques will be questioned by the national director of DNIAP and sub-attorney general Júlia Rosa de Lacerda Gonçalves, who is in charge of the cases.

The notice that Marques received mentions neither the names of the complainants nor the nature of the crime. “There is no way to prepare a defence when one doesn’t know what it’s about,” Marques said.

In 2012, nine generals, brought a case against Marques in Portugal. The generals are shareholders in the diamond-mining company Sociedade Mineira do Cuango, and of the private security company Teleservice, which provided services for the first and were both the institutional culprits for the abuses.

Last February, the Portuguese Prosecution Service archived the case.  It found that “having examined the documentation entered into evidence, found that the publication of the book fell within the legitimate exercise of a basic right, freedom of information and expression, protected under the Constitution, which, in this case, overrides other rights.”

The Public Prosecutor found no evidence that Mr. Marques defamed the generals, and it ruled that the investigative content of the book was of the public interest.

In an appeal, the generals filed a civil lawsuit for calumny and defamation against the author and his publisher, Tinta da China, claiming damages of 300,000 euros (US $ 390,000). This case is still pending in a court in Lisbon.

The complainants in that case are the generals Hélder Manuel Vieira Dias Júnior “Kopelipa”, minister of state and head of presidential security; Carlos Alberto Hendrick Vaal da Silva, inspector-general of the Chief of Staff of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA); António dos Santos França “Ndalu”, MPLA parliamentarian and former Chief of Staff of the FAA; Armando da Cruz Neto, MPLA parliamentarian and former Chief of Staff of the FAA; Adriano Makevela Mackenzie, head of the FAA’s training directorate; João Baptista de Matos, former Chief of Staff of the FAA; Luís Pereira Faceira, former head of the Army; António Pereira Faceira, former head of the FAA Special Forces; and Paulo Pfluger Lara, former head of planning of the FAA Chief of Staff.

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