Angola: Prominent journalist sent to jail in libel case
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||5 October 2007|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Angola: Prominent journalist sent to jail in libel case, 5 October 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48243c3c3a.html [accessed 22 September 2014]|
New York, October 5, 2007 – The prominent director of an Angolan private weekly was sent to prison on Wednesday after being sentenced to an eight-month term and a 18.7 million kwanza (US$250,000) fine for criminal libel. Semanário Angolense Director Graca Campos was convicted on September 25 of "insult, slander, calumny and infringement of rights" involving a former minister of justice, according to his defense lawyer and local journalists.
Defense lawyer Paulo Rangel said he has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, but Luanda Court Judge Pedro Viana did not immediately release Campos, who is being held in a prison on the outskirts of Angola's capital city.
Paulo Chipilica, the former minister and current general solicitor, complained of "sarcastic passages" by Campos in a series of opinion articles published in 2001 and 2004, according to local journalists. In particular, Chipilica disputed a March 2004 article – headlined "If he is not stopped, he will sell all the country" – that suggested improprieties in the transfer of former colonial houses to Portuguese ownership.
According to journalists at Semanário Angolense, Campos missed two court hearings because he was in Brazil for personal reasons and was not notified of the hearing dates. Campos returned for a September 25 court date expecting to submit a defense, only to receive a guilty verdict, they said.
"The heavy fine is clearly an effort to ensure Campos and his important publication is silenced. It's even more outrageous that he is being sent to jail for being sarcastic," said CPJ's executive director, Joel Simon. "Angola does not have a history of jailing journalists and it should not start one now."
Semanário Angolense, one of leading independent newspapers in Angola, is also facing a 75 million kwanza (US$1 million) libel complaint filed by Prime Minister Fernando da Piedale Dias de Santos in 2004.