Angola jails four human rights activists
LUANDA, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Four Angolan human rights activists were sentenced to up to six years in jail in Angola's oil-producing Cabinda province, a lawyer said on Tuesday.
The human rights activists were all arrested shortly after the Cabindan separatist group FLEC killed two members of the Togo national soccer delegation as they made their way by bus to the African Nations Cup in Angola in January.
The trial took place under a heavy police presence, a month after exiled leaders of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) said their three-decade long war against the government was over.
Priest Raul Tati, lawyer Francisco Luemba, economist Belchior Tati and engineer Barnabe Paca Peso were jailed for crimes against the state but the judge did not say whether they had direct links to the FLEC attack.
According to lawyer and human rights activist Martinho Nombo, who has taken part in the court hearings, the judge convicted the four activists because they had spoken or written about the independence of Cabinda. "This is unconstitutional. A judge cannot jail someone for nothing," said Nombo, who is also a former vice-governor of Cabinda. "This will only worsen Angola's poor record on human rights and the whole peace process with FLEC."
In June, another Angolan human rights activist, Andre Zeferino Puati, was sentenced to three years in jail by the same court. He was also accused of crimes against the state.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which have criticised Angola's record on human rights in Cabinda for years, have both called for the release of all five human right campaigners.
Angola's secretary of state for human rights, Antonio Bento Bembe, was not immediately available for comment.
FLEC's war against Angola's government for independence is long and complex. One grievance is that Cabindans see little of the oil money that comes from their homeland.
(Reporting by Henrique Almeida; Editing by Giles Elgood)
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