Angolan Police Illegally Spread Their Wings in Portugal
As evidence of the confusion abounding within political and judicial authorities with regard to the case of the 15 political prisoners, senior officials from the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) and the Attorney General’s office in Luanda travelled to Lisbon. There, on 6 and 7 August, they interrogated Alberto Neto, owner of the property where the youths were arrested, and made bizarre accusations about the activists’ alleged plans.
Alberto Neto, an opposition politician and academic, was interrogated by the deputy Attorney General of the Republic attached to SIC, Luciano Chaca, and the SIC special agent Pedro João, who coordinated the raid on Neto’s home that resulted in the arrest of 13 of the youths.
In an exclusive interview with Maka Angola, Alberto Neto described what happened. “I was in Sweden as a visiting professor in the University of Malmo. I was told that over 50 police officers had surrounded and entered my house without an arrest warrant”, he said.
“My sister told me and gave me contact details for Mr João Pedro [Pedro João], who was in charge of the operation. I called him to find out what was going on and asked him to produce a warrant for clarification”, he continued.
“On 31 July, Mr João Pedro called me on my Swedish number to say he was at the airport, on his way to Copenhagen (Denmark) to travel on to Sweden to interrogate me. I told him that I was in Lisbon and we arranged to meet in Portugal. On 6 August, at 16.00, we met in Culturgest, I identified myself and asked them to identify themselves”, he added.
Alberto Neto states that the Angolan state agents showed him “a document signed by the Minister of the Interior, Ângelo de Veiga Tavares, giving them the authority to travel to interrogate him outside the country”.
“Those present were Dr Luciano Chaca, deputy attorney general of the Republic, and Mr João Pedro, who was in charge of the operation that brought about the arrest of the youths. They also brought an interpreter to hear my evidence”, he emphasised, even though all the parties involved speak Portuguese.
“I asked them to explain in detail what had happened. They [the investigators] told me that the youths were planning a coup”, he declared.
“I told them these kids are nobodies, much less have any military training. How could they possibly attempt a coup?” he asked his interrogators.
According to the professor, “João Pedro said that Domingos da Cruz was the ringleader of the attempted coup. I asked him who Domingos da Cruz was and if he was black. The special agent confirmed that he was black and well-spoken.”
Proceeding, special agent Pedro João told his interlocutor that “the youths had already spoken to members of the Angolan Armed Forces so that they would remain neutral while the coup was taking place.”
Alberto Neto further stated that his interrogators said that the youths had a plan of action to burn tyres to cause instability throughout the country.
“They also told me the youths had a list of leaders to replace the President of the Republic, one being [José] Kalupeteka [the leader of a religious sect that was recently massacred in Huambo and who is under arrest since April]. Luaty Beirão [the rapper] would be the new attorney general of the Republic”, he explained.
Incredulous, Alberto Neto said he asked the state agents if they “believed what they were saying and they said yes”.
“With regard to the questions they asked me, I answered that I knew some of the youths and that they were welcome in my house. It often happens that street vendors who get beaten by police officers take refuge in my house, and I offer them protection. It is my duty and they are welcome”, reiterates the politician.
“I told them that the story about the coup is a farce”, he stresses.
“I also tried to find out when the youths will be released. They only told me the delegation will stay in Lisbon for another week, for doctors’ appointments”, says Alberto Neto.
The politician also confirms that he had previously informed Portuguese authorities and the Swedish ambassador in Lisbon of this Angolan State delegation, because “you never know”.
Alberto Neto reconfirms that the initial contact came from him, “and I thank the minister for authorising them to come”.
The PGR and SIC delegation held another meeting with Alberto Neto in Culturgest the next day, on 7 August. “They brought a statement for me to sign and told me they could not give me a copy because the interrogation had taken place in a foreign country, and was, thereby, illegal. They wanted me to sign as if the interrogation had taken place in Luanda”, he reveals.
“They explained to me that they could not send warrants to Swedish or Portuguese authorities since, where international law was concerned, what they were doing was illegal”.
“Both Dr Luciano Chaca and special agent João Pedro reiterated that what they were doing was illegal under international law, and, therefore, they could not admit that they had interrogated me in Lisbon, in a foreign country”, he explains.
The politician and lawyer regrets the fact that he was not given a copy of his statement, given the aforementioned justifications provided by the members of the SIC/PGR joint delegation.
A Free Man
With regard to the meetings held by the youths at his home, Alberto Neto states that there was never any need for formal requests. The Language and Computer Studies Institute of Luanda is located in the annex of his home.
“If I was in Luanda, I would have allowed the meetings to go ahead just the same. Who has the right to tell me who I can and cannot invite into my home? I am 72 years old, and I don’t need to answer that type of question. I am a free man”, Neto concludes.