Political Prisoners Tortured in São Paulo Penitentiary

“I saw the wounds on the legs, the hands and on his back. I had to massage him as he was very swollen. He took a heavy beating. Fifteen to twenty police tortured him. He can hardly walk,” revealed Henriqueta Diogo.  She was referring to the terror her husband, the political prisoner Benedito Jeremias, experienced last Friday at the São Paulo prison hospital in Luanda.

According to Henriqueta Diogo, her husband and five others who have been detained in the 15+1 case were protesting over what is supposed to be a basic right – being able to talk to each other during breaks.

“The police started beating him while he was in his cell with electric truncheons while  the jail’s deputy director, Aldivino Oliveira, took photographs and filmed everything. He was then dragged out of the cell where the punishment continued, “ said Henriqueta Diogo.

Yesterday, Henriqueta Diogo found her husband “with his legs all swollen, feverish, and without any medical care”. She had gone to deliver food to him, as prisons in Angola do not provide adequate meals for prisoners.

Maka Angola called the deputy director Aldivino Oliveira and asked about the torture session which had been revealed by Benedito Jeremias’s wife. “All matters that have to do with prison services have to be referred to headquarters, “ he answered laconically.

Apart from Benedito Jeremias’s wife, the activist Rosa Conde, who was with Benedito Jeremias after he was tortured, also confirmed that the prison’s deputy director had ordered his men to “ set their guns to firing mode and to pull the triggers if he showed some resistance to the torture.”

“Bingobingo was also beaten with electric truncheons.  The police undressed him in the cell and tortured him in the corridor while completely naked” said Rosa Conde after having talked to Albano Bingobingo and taken his statement.

The activists Rosa Conde and Laurinda Gouveia are the two defendants who are free; they have been charged by the Attorney General’s office with rebellion and an attempt on the life of the President of the Republic.  They are part of the 15+1 case.  At first, the Attorney General, General Jose Maria de Sousa, accused them of having been plotting a coup while reading manuals on non-violent resistance to dictatorships.

Last Friday, they both met the deputy director of the Sao Paulo Prison, Aldivino Oliveira, who justified the “hard measures” that would be taken in dealing with political prisoners.

“When the director said he was going to take hard measures, he had already done so.  He had ordered the torturing of our brothers and photographed as well as filmed the act.  This was certainly not good,” lamented Rosa Conde.

The meeting in question was also attended by Fernando Baptista (father of Nito Alves), Deolinda Luisa (mother of Benedito Jeremias), an uncle of Nito Alves, as well as the activists Pedro Malembe, Mario Faustino and Santos Kuntuala.  During the meeting, the political prisoners Afonso Matias (Mbanza Hamba), Albano Bingobingo, Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Jeremias, Hitler Jessy Chivonde and Nito Alves were each called one by one to be able to talk to those who were present.

Maka Angola contacted a lawyer, who chose to remain anonymous, to ask about the legality of the torture session that was supposedly ordered by Aldivino Oliveira. “Corporal punishments are a violation of human rights in the constitution such as the right to life, physical integrity, and, among others, human dignity.”

According to the same lawyer, “Those behind this should be charged with criminal acts.”