Presidential Guard who Shot Dead Opposition Activist Acquitted

The Luanda Provincial Court yesterday acquitted the soldier from the Presidential Guard Unit who shot dead an opposition activist in November 2013.  After the judge pronounced the acquittal, there were protests outside the courtroom prompting the intervention of the police.

The prosecution had charged the soldier Desidério Barros of murder, which would have been punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  The soldier had fired two shots that killed Manuel Hilberto Ganga, leader of the youth wing of CASA-CE [Electoral Coalition for the Salvation of Angola].

According to the Angolan police, the youth leader, then aged 32, was found violating the security perimeter of the presidency, to put up anti-regime posters, which the court found to be offensive to president José Eduardo dos Santos.

The court concluded that the soldier, aged 30, had acted properly, taking into account the security perimeter wall around the president’s palace, and that the victim, after being apprehended by the Presidential Guard Unit, tried to flee, resulting in the fatal shots linked to the soldier who admitted pulling the trigger.

Soon after the judge pronounced the acquittal to a packed courtroom, there were instant protests with shouts of “The police belong to the people and not the MPLA [the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola]”.

The police then moved to control a dozen or so youths who were present as members of CASA-CE.


Editor’s note:

For a critical account of Ganga’s fatal shooting read his sister’s letter to President José Eduardo dos Santos’ here.