Trial of protesters in Luanda ends with 71 convicted of disobedience

Trial of protesters in Luanda ends with 71 convicted of disobedience
Trial of protesters in Luanda ends with 71 convicted of disobedience

The trial of hundreds of protesters detained last October 24 in Luanda ended Sunday, with 71 defendants convicted of the crime of disobedience, but all will be released, a defense lawyer told Lusa.

Speaking to Lusa, Zola Bambi, indicated that 26 defendants were acquitted of all crimes and 71 others were sentenced for disobedience to a sentence of one month in prison converted into a fine of 20 kwanzas per day (0.0257 euros), as well as 10,000 kwanzas of justice fee (about 13 euros) and 2,000 kwanzas for the unofficial defender (2.6 euros).

All will be released pending the signing of the release warrants, he added.

The lawyer for the Associação Mãos Livres, part of the collective that defended the protesters, said that three of the convicted defendants requested that an appeal be filed, which will be extended to all.

Initial numbers pointed to 103 detained protesters, but some have yet to make statements (one mute young man and another who is isolated because he has been diagnosed with covid-19) or have been left out of the process (journalists), explained Zola Bambi.

The Public Ministry may also request a certificate to open a separate case to try these defendants.

On October 24, several journalists were also detained, who have since been released, without charge.

The trial session, concluded with the hearing of the last defendants and final allegations, took place this Sunday at Cidadela, after the defense requested a room with better conditions than the previous sessions, at the Luanda Provincial Court.

On Saturday, one of the defendants was assisted at the prison hospital and presents “a worrying clinical picture”, with “loss of mental faculties”, according to Zola Bambi.

Among the detainees were young people, activists and members of UNITA, the main Angolan opposition party, accused of disobedience to presidential decree 276/20, which established more restrictive measures in terms of preventing covid-19, crimes of voluntary bodily harm and crimes of voluntary damage to National Police assets.

The trial started on Monday and took hundreds of supporters to the D. Ana Joaquina palace, in downtown Angolan capital, demanding the release of their companions.

The Luanda Provincial Court was the scene of clashes with the police, which on Wednesday banned the presence of demonstrators in the vicinity of the site after disagreements and some acts of vandalism.

President João Lourenço spoke on Thursday for the first time about the events, as leader of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), denying the violation of rights in Angola and saying that the right to demonstrate is only “conditioned” temporarily because of the pandemic.

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