A daughter of Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Thursday appealed a Spanish court’s decision ordering his body to be released to his widow and returned home for burial.
Dos Santos, who ruled the oil-rich African nation with an iron first from 1979 to 2017, died in Barcelona on July 8 at the age of 79 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Since then, the question of when and where he will be buried has pitted the Angolan government and his widow, Ana Paula, against some of his adult children.
A Barcelona court on Tuesday ordered his remains to be delivered to Ana Paula and granted authorisation for “the repatriation and international transfer of (his) remains to Angola”.
But his 44-year-old daughter Tchize dos Santos filed an appeal, arguing the court did not have the jurisdiction to rule on what was essentially a civil matter, court documents showed.
The appeal also argues that dos Santos and Ana Paula were separated since 2017 and “did not live in a situation of matrimonial normality”.
Tchize dos Santos has repeatedly said her father wished to be buried in Barcelona where he had mostly lived since stepping down in 2017.
She also argues her father’s burial in Angola would be used to favour the current government of Joao Lourenco ahead of crucial elections in the former Portuguese colony on August 24.
Just days after his death, a post-mortem was carried out at her request on grounds he died in “suspicious circumstances”.
In mid-July a Spanish court refused to release his body until the tests were finished and it had been decided to which relative his body would be released.
The post-mortem showed he died “a death from natural causes”.
The nearly four-decade tenure of dos Santos saw members of his family capitalise on the nation’s oil riches while most Angolans remained mired in poverty.
When he stepped down in 2017, dos Santos handed over to Lourenco, the former defence minister.
But Lourenco quickly turned on his erstwhile patron, unleashing an anti-corruption drive to recoup billions he suspected had been embezzled under dos Santos, a campaign that has targeted the former president’s family.