Being Friends Can Be Dangerous in Angola
The attorney general of the Republic, General João Maria de Sousa has unleashed a new campaign of harassment against his critics. Several people are being currently questioned by the National Directorate of Investigation and Penal Action (DNIAP) to establish the sources of leaks about his actions.
On Monday, the activist José Gama was interrogated by DNIAP, under suspicion of having links with the Club-K website and the journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, following a complaint lodged by General João Maria de Sousa.
José Gama told Maka Angola that the DNIAP, a branch of the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), “wants to know if I know Mr Rafael Marques.”
According to the activist, detective Elizeth Paulo showed him two articles from the Club-K site – “PGR Strangles the Valentim Amões Group,” from June 16 past and ”PGR takes revenge on Lídia Amões,” from June 24 – and questioned him as to the authorship and sources of the articles.
“I explained to the DNIAP that Club-K is a website of the diaspora based in the United States of America and that the questions should be directed to their management. The authorities should check the internet to find out where the website is based,” Gama said. “I asked them why they were asking about Mr Rafael Marques, and what my connection to him has to do with the case, but they didn’t answer. I find it very strange that I should be called to respond to a complaint from the attorney-general of the Republic, just to be asked if I know Rafael Marques de Morais, in a meaningless case.”
Meanwhile, Maka Angola is well aware that the PGR often adopts this type of attitude. For example, the businesswoman Lídia Amões has been under coercion from the PGR for almost two years, without being charged under suspicion of committing a crime.
The coercive measures include travel restrictions; whereby she may not leave the province or travel abroad, she must appear at the DNIAP office every two weeks, and she is not allowed to change her place of residence or employment. According to a lawyer contacted by this website, who wished to remain anonymous, “in reality, these coercive measures amount to a period of house arrest.”
In turn, Rafael Marques de Morais is the founder of Maka Angola, where he regularly publishes texts under his own byline. His opinion on the PGR is well known. In an open letter to the president on July 17, he wrote:
“The attorney general of the Republic, General João Maria de Sousa, took it upon himself as guardian of law and order to announce publicly that the young men were preparing a coup d’état against you. In so doing, he destroyed what little credibility his office still had. General João Maria de Sousa is a very bad man. He is not fit to serve you. Discrediting the judicial system does not serve your security.”
In 2009 the journalist investigated the attorney general’s private business interests, and concluded that, “the disrespect shown for the Constitution and the laws of the Republic by the attorney general of the Republic makes, I submit, a mockery of the seriousness of our State institutions, especially regarding justice.”
Meanwhile, on 20 September 2013, journalists Rafael Marques de Morais and Alexandre Solombe were brutally attacked by the Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) as they left court and they lodged a complaint with the PGR. General João Maria de Sousa, to whom the complaint was directly addressed, supressed the case.
The PIR agents destroyed the journalists’ work equipment and confiscated a memory stick, for no apparent reason.
“It seems more like an act of rage than of justice”, the journalist responded. “This obsession with my name reminds me of an incident that took place on June 5 past. Two ruling party members (MPLA) and businessmen, who were on their way to the proclamation ceremony of the Businessmen and Entrepreneurs’ Select Committee of the MPLA, saw me at the garage of the mechanic they used. They asked the mechanic why the hell he was fixing my car. Since he appeared neutral, the two businessmen stated that when the time came for me to be mowed down by a machine-gun, that he might get shot as collateral damage.”
“Unfortunately, in this country, this is the true nature of justice and arbitrary power,” concluded Rafael Marques de Morais.