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Operation Fizz: Manuel Vincente may be tried in Angola – but not until 2022

ManuelVincenteThe former Angolan Vice-President, Manuel Vicente, could yet face trial in Operation Fizz – he is accused of bribing a former Portuguese public prosecutor, Orlando Figueira.

The Attorney General of Angola has informed the Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s Office that Vincente will be available five years after the end of his mandate, which pushes any court date back to 2022 as Vicente ended his term of office in September 2017.

In response to a letter rogatory, sent by the Portuguese Attorney General’s Office as part of the criminal investigation, its Angolan counterpart replied that Manuel Vicente “still benefits from the regime of material and procedural immunities,” established in the Angolan Constitution.

The immunity in question covers any offences committed by the Angolan President or Vice-President who will only be accountable to the Angolan Supreme Court five years after a term of office is over,” and therefore, “Vincente is only answerable to the justice system of the Republic of Angola.”

The Angolan Public Ministry reminded Portugal of an existing bilateral agreement and stated that Angola, “has all the conditions to ensure the proper administration of justice, should the case in question be transmitted to it or delegated by the Portuguese State.”

There also is an amnesty clause that could be used but only after Vincente is found guilty of a crime.

The Angolan Public Ministry also said it would not be notifying Vicente of his arrest warrant nor would it be putting him any sort of house arrest.

The trial, triggered by Operation Fizz, started on Monday, with Orlando Figueira, the businessman Armindo Pires and the lawyer Paulo Blanco in court to face various serious charges revolving around Vincente.

The court case is based on accusations that Manuel Vicente corrupted Orlando Figueira to drop two investigations related to the Angolan’s purchase of a luxury property in Estoril.

Figueira is facing charges of passive corruption, money laundering, violation of secrecy of justice laws and the falsification of documents. The lawyer Paulo Blanco faces charges of conspiring in active corruption, money laundering, violation of secrecy of justice laws and the falsification of document.

This not-unexpected response from the Angolan authorities will do little to unwind the tense diplomatic tension that has built up, despite both countries claiming that relations have never been better.

© algarvedailynews.com

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