Prosecutors seek one-month jail term for Angolan activist

Angolan prosecutors on Monday sought a suspended one-month jail sentence for anti-corruption activist Rafael Marques despite a deal to drop defamation charges against him, his lawyer said.

Prosecutors made the request during final arguments in the trial of Marques, who was accused of defaming several generals in a 2011 book about violence and rights violations linked to Angola’s lucrative diamond mining industry.

Earlier in May, Marques’ trial resumed after he failed to reach a negotiated settlement with the military generals suing him.

Exposing corruption
The outspoken activist, also a journalist, stands accused of defaming several generals n a book exposing alleged corruption, torture and other rights violations linked to Angola’s lucrative diamond mining industry.

Marques accused the generals of orchestrating the torture and killings committed by soldiers and private guards hired to protect diamond concessions in the northeastern Lundas region.

The request for a suspended sentence came as a surprise to lawyers after the generals last week agreed to drop the charges on condition that Marques would not re-release his book.

“Despite the agreement reached between the parties, the prosecution has asked for a one-month suspended prison sentence,” his lawyer David Mendes told AFP.

He vowed to appeal against any sentence when the verdict is handed, which is expected to happen on Thursday.

Marques said he felt “tricked” in the wake of the deal he had secured with the generals.

“After all this, the state asks that I be sentenced, saying that I had failed to give evidence,” said Marques as he left the court room.

Following agreement between him and the generals, none of the witnesses, including Marques and a woman whose two sons were killed by security forces within a year of each other in the mining region, gave evidence during the trial.

The generals, including one of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ closest allies, had originally claimed $1.2-million in damages. – AFP

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