HRW calls on Angola to quash convictions of Cabinda activists

The Angolan government should annul the convictions of three prominent rights advocates and a former policeman after a politically motivated trial in the oil-rich Cabinda province, Human Rights Watch said.

On August 3, 2010, a Cabinda court sentenced human rights defenders  Father Raúl Tati, a Catholic priest, and Francisco Luemba, a lawyer,  each to five years in prison; Belchior Lanso Tati, a civic activist and university professor, to six years; and José Benjamim Fuca, a former policeman, to three years. The four men were arrested following a January 8 attack by gunmen on Togolese soccer players who were in Cabinda to participate in the African Cup of Nations.

A separatist guerrilla movement, Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), claimed responsibility for the January 8 attack. The government has not conducted any credible investigations into the  attack, nor did the court find that the accused men had any direct  involvement in it, Human Rights Watch said. However, the government has  continued to try to link the four to the incident by, for instance,  having the state-owned daily Jornal de Angola report that those convicted were “terrorists.”

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