Coup Plot Inquiry Turns to Pre-School and the Name of a Prisoner

Fernando Baptista, father of the political prisoner Manuel Baptista Chivonde Nito Alves, was summoned on Friday to testify before the Criminal Investigation Service [SIC] in Luanda.

He was questioned about his son’s primary school education and about his given name, which recalls the name of a famous anti-establishment leader from the 1970s.

“I was interrogated by special agent Pedro João, in the presence of Superintendent Fernando Recheado. They wanted to know why I called my son Nito Alves,  and where he went to school from pre-school to the end of his primary education”, the father told Maka Angola.

According to Fernando Baptista, the interrogation lasted one hour and “was based entirely on his name and his primary education”.

“Special agent Pedro João also asked me if we are related to Commander Nito Alves and I said we were not”, said the father.

The legendary commander Alves Bernardo Baptista “Nito Alves”, was shot dead in June 1977, following the massacre of thousands of civilians by forces loyal to the then president, Agostinho Neto. He [Commander Nito Alves] was politically accused of treason and for having led an attempted coup on 27 May of the same year, and was denied the right to a trial. The current president, José Eduardo dos Santos, who led the commission investigating the tragedy, never found proof that there had been an attempted coup and submitted his report, which was deemed to be “inconclusive”.

Nito Alves, 19 years old, has been in custody since 20 June, accused of involvment in plotting a coup against President José Eduardo dos Santos. At the time of his arrest, when he was supposedly caught red-handed, he was attending a study group discussing ideas about non-violent protest strategy, especially with regard to exercising the right to protest, consecrated in the Constitution.

This is part of the case which led to the arrest, on the same day, of the activists Afonso Matias, “Mbanza Hamza”, Albano Bingobingo, Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Jeremias, Fernando Tomás “Nicola Radical”, Hitler Jessia Chiconda “Itler Samussuku”, Inocêncio Brito “Drux”, José Hata “Cheik Hata”, Luaty Beirão, Nelson Dibango, Nuno Álvaro Dala, Osvaldo Caholo and Sedrick de Carvalho. The next day, 21 June, Domingos da Cruz was arrested by the authorities at the Santa Clara border crossing, when he was travelling to Namibia for medical attention. On 24 June, Lieutenant Osvaldo Caholo was arrested at home, as part of the same case.

“I don’t think the fact that I am Nito Alves’s father is any justification for summoning me. This is an intimidation tactic. As a father, I will keep on defending my son, who has been arrested on a trumped-up political charge. I have nothing to say to these gentlemen”, stated Fernando Baptista, a former National Police officer.

“Have I ever been linked to the Revolutionary Movement, or taken part in a demonstration? Does this mean that the Criminal Investigation Service is going to summon the fathers of all political prisoners? Where are we going with this type of abuse?” he added in frustration.

The lawyer José Faria told Maka Angola that, according to the law, the minimum time for a summons is 72 hours (three days). “In this case, the investigator  has  failed to comply with the administrative norm”, he clarified.

“SIC is in the habit of calling certain citizens to appear from one day to the next, just to make things difficult for them. They [the investigators] are extremely unpredictable”, added José Faria.

Up to now, over 70 days later, and despite the ridiculous explanations presented only to deputies and the diplomatic corps, the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic [PGR] has failed to formally charge any of the 15 detainees. However, the attorney general, General João Maria de Sousa, and the President of the Republic himself, José Eduardo dos Santos, have already made public statements, accusing the youths of attempting a coup.