Writing on Prison Uniforms is as Bad as Plotting a Coup

The Office of the Attorney General intends to charge the 17 activists currently on trial in Luanda  with criminal (damage) rebellion for  having written slogans on their  prison uniforms. Defense lawyer David Mendes confirmed the information to Lusa.
He is part of the team of four defending the 15 detainees, since June, charged with plotting a rebellion and to assassinate President Dos Santos, while discussing literature on nonviolence.

At the beginning of the trial on Monday, the only day the press had access to the court, several of the accused turned up with various phrases, defying president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, written on their uniforms.

“Five of them have been charged with having written on their prison uniforms.  The Prosecutor General’s office maintains that the uniforms are government property. They will soon come up with the charge sheets,” said David Mendes with the information that the court has given out on this matter.

Among the activists who have been charged with the crime of criminal damage is the rapper Luaty Beirão, who while challenging the whole case, went on a 36-day hunger strike.

“Prisoner of Zedu” [Short for Jose Eduardo dos Santos] “in dubio reo” [the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty.; and, “no dictatorship can hold back forever the advance of a society.”  These are some of the phrases that Lusa saw on the uniforms of the activists, and which were repeated on Tuesday.

These 17 youths have been accused, among other crimes,  of carrying out acts preparing for a rebellion and making an attempt on the Angolan president’s life.

The trial started on Monday in  the 14th Section of the Luanda Provincial Tribunal in Benfica.  Journalists were barred from covering the trial.

According to the lawyer David Mendes, the third session was marked by an incident in which one of the accused, Hitler Jessy Chiconde, was found unconscious in the prison van that had taken him to the court.

“The prison van had no ventilation and he passed out for almost an hour, “ said the lawyer.

This accused youth is only the second one to be heard by the court so far.  His hearing ended today which means that the trial will not end as previously intended  on Friday.

“It is not possible because until now only two of the accused have been heard. All the accused will have to be heard; this means that the trial will have to go on,” said David Mendes.

According to the lawyer, the second session was marked by “many requirements”. The defense questioned the authenticity of a document said to be a strategic blueprint  of the  activists as they prepared for the rebellion.  The charges against the activists are based on this document.  The lawyer said the document’s  author is not known and was allegedly found after a search of one of the computers of the accused .

“These computers were searched in the absence of the lawyers and the accused. Nobody has, therefore, been able to attest to the veracity of these documents,” DavidMendes stressed.

The fourth session of the trial, under heavy security arrangements at the court in Benfica, is taking place today.