Senegal: CPJ urges Angola to drop charges against two journalists

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Angolan authorities to immediately drop charges against two journalists charged with "crimen injuria", a crime defined to be the act of "unlawfully, intentionally and seriously impairing the dignity of another."  

In a statement made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal on Friday, CPJ named the journalists as Rafael Marques de Morais, who runs the anti-corruption website 'Maka Angola', and Mariano Bras of the weekly 'O Crime'.

According to the statement, Marques de Morais was questioned by a prosecutor for three hours on 27 December before he was charged with ''crimen injuria'' over an article he wrote and published on the website in October.

The article alleged wrongdoing by Angola's Attorney General João Maria de Sousa in his purchase of state-owned land.

Bras, who republished the article in his paper, told CPJ he was also questioned for three hours the following day before being charged with the same crime.

Bras said he was questioned about the veracity of the report in his paper and for details about who owned the publication.

The statement pointed out that a court date has not been set for the cases and, if convicted, the journalists could be jailed for six months and fined.

"Angola's prosecution service should drop all charges against Rafael Marques de Morais and Mariano Bras," remarked CPJ's Africa program coordinator Angela Quintal. "Angola should immediately stop persecuting these journalists simply for doing their job by reporting on allegations of official corruption."

Marques de Morais told CPJ that before publishing the article he sent the attorney general several questions, but did not receive a reply.

He said he had written previously about de Sousa's allegedly corrupt business activities.

According to the statement, Marques de Morais has long been the subject of state harassment by Angolan authorities and he was given a suspended six-month prison sentence last year for defaming Angolan generals in his book 'Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola' that documented allegations of torture and murder in diamond fields.

CPJ also recalled that in 1999 he was imprisoned for 43 days without charge after referring to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos as a dictator.

Meanwhile, the statement noted that Bras has been under investigation since June 2015 for alleged abuse of press freedom, defamation, and insult of public authorities, following a complaint by Angola's army chief and the minister of interior.

-0- PANA MLJ/AR 30Dec2016





30 december 2016 15:56:20




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