On Friday, 20 May 2016, the Supreme Court in Angola acquitted human rights activist, José Marcos Mavungo who faced charges of rebellion, holding that “there were no concrete facts related to the crimes of which he was accused”.
Mavungo had been convicted by the High Court of Cabinda in September 2015, and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. The High Court found him guilty of rebellion after his involvement in organising a peaceful demonstration and his alleged association with a group of unknown men said to have been found with explosives and flyers a day before the demonstration. No evidence of Mavungo’s relationship with these men or of his involvement in the production of the flyers was presented during the trial. At the time, there were serious concerns over the manner in which Mavungo was charged: he had first been charged with sedition soon after his arrest in March 2015, but when the Court ruled that the charge was unfounded, the Judge called for further investigations, and Mavungo was then charged with rebellion.
“The news that José Marcos Mavungo has been released is enormously welcome,” said Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, SALC’s executive director. “We have been following recent events in Angola closely, and having expressed our concern at the deteriorating situation in respect of freedom of expression and the rule of law, this is extremely good news.”
Although Mavungo was tried last year, his lawyer, Arão Bula Tempo, who was also charged with similar offences is still awaiting trial.
“It is heartening that the Supreme Court in Angola appears to have applied its mind freely and fairly, and without political interference – particularly given the serious concerns in the High Court. We hope that Tempo and other Angolan activists currently in jail or awaiting trial will be afforded the same protection of their right to a fair trial.”
For more information:
See SALC’s previous statements on Mavungo’s case here, here, here and here.