Generals Chase Journalist Over Blood Diamonds Investigation
Journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais was interrogated today in connection with 11 criminal complaints arising from his book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola.
The complaints were lodged on March 14 by seven generals whom the book names as responsible for crimes against humanity that occurred in the Lunda diamond mining region in north-eastern Angola. The complainants are led by the Minister of State and head of the Intelligence Bureau in the Presidency, Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa”. The other complainants are Adriano Makevela Mackenzie, António Emílio Faceira, Armando da Cruz Neto (an MPLA parliamentarian), Carlos Alberto Hendrick Vaal da Silva (Inspector General of the General Staff of Angolan Armed Forces), João Baptista de Matos, and Luís Pereira Faceira.
The private security company Teleservice, owned by the same generals, laid a collective complaint, in addition to the complaint brought by the civilian shareholder José Carlos Figueiredo de Sousa. The mining company Sociedade Mineira do Cuango (SMC), which holds a mining concession in the Congo River Basin, also brought a separate complaint. SMC is a consortium comprising Lumanhe, the company owned by the same generals who brought the charges, the state diamond company Endiama, and ITM-Mining. ITM-Mining had also laid an earlier complaint, for which Marques was questioned on April 3 this year.
In the latest case, Mr. Marques de Morais was summoned for interrogation last week, but the hearing was postponed owing to the absence of members of the investigating team. The summons that he received did not detail the charges or the names of the complainants, which were only announced to him during today’s questioning.
Mr. Marques de Morais’ book, published in Portugal in 2011, details dozens of cases of killing, and hundreds of cases of torture, forced displacement and intimidation against villagers and diamond diggers in Cuango and Xá-Muteba districts in Lunda Norte province.
In November 14, 2011, Mr. Marques de Morais laid a criminal complaint with the office of the Angolan Attorney-General, requesting that the shareholders in Teleservice and SMC, and the managers of ITM-Mining be investigated for crimes against humanity, on the basis of the evidence presented in the book. The Attorney General laid the case aside on the grounds that under Angolan law, a collective legal person could not bear individual criminal responsibility.
In 2012, nine generals brought a case against Mr. Marques de Morais in Portugal, but the Portuguese authorities dismissed the case in February 2013. The generals responded by bringing a civil case for defamation against the author and his publisher, Tinta da China, claiming damages of 300,000 euros (US $ 390,000). That case is still pending in a court in Lisbon.