Angolan protesters face up to 13 years in jail | News | DW | 21.03.2016
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Angolan protesters face up to 13 years in jail

Prosecutors have demanded harsh prison sentences for activists accused of plotting a rebellion against the Angolan president. The trial has been denounced by international critics as a farce to stamp out opposition.

Seventeen activists arrested last year in Angola heard on Monday that they may face 13 years in prison. While the defendants insist they were meeting to discuss peaceful anti-government resistance, the authorities have accused them of planning to stage a coup against longtime President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

"During questioning it has been confirmed that the accused are guilty of crimes of rebellion, acts preparing a coup against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and association with wrongdoers," prosecutor Isabel Nicolau Francony was quoted by French news agency AFP as saying.

Francony then asked the judge for sentences of three months to 13 years for the various defendants, the most famous of which is well-known rapper Luaty Beirao, one of several accused to go on a hunger strike over what they call an unfair show trial.

According to DW's Cristina Krippahl, 13 of the activists on trial were arrested last June at an event discussing the non-violent protest manifesto "From Dictatorship to Democracy," and have since been subjected to sometimes violent abuse in prison.

Despite Angolan law stipulating that suspects may only be remanded into custody for three months, the trial has dragged on for far longer and no date for a verdict is in sight.

The 73-year-old dos Santos has been in power in Luanda for 37 years. Although dos Santos has promised to step down when his current mandate ends in 2018, his previous two vows to the same effect have led to widespread skepticism that he intends to make good on his promise.