Home News Angola sect leader in the dock over police murders

Angola sect leader in the dock over police murders

Published on 18/01/2016

Angolan sect leader Julino Kalupeteca appeared in the dock on Monday over the 2015 murder of nine police officers during a security forces raid to arrest him.

Angola’s opposition party Unita says more than 1,000 people were killed in the April 2015 police operation against Kalupeteca’s Seventh Day Light of the World Church.

Authorities deny opposition claims of a “massacre,” insisting that 22 people died — 13 civilians and nine police officers.

Local media reported the trial as opening in the central western city of Huambo and quoted defence lawyer Salvador Freire as saying that “we shall use all arguments at our disposal to ensure Kalupeteca goes free.”

Ten other sect members, one aged just 18, are in the dock for trying to thwart the arrest of their leader during the police raid in a mountainous area of the central Huambo region where Kalupeteca lived with 3,000 followers.

Authorities accused him of posing a risk to public order after he urged parents to withdraw their children from school.

The sect, which predicted the end of the world in 2015 and encourages its followers to live in seclusion, is a dissident branch of the Seventh Day Adventist Church with 3,700 followers in Angola, according to local news agency ANGOP.

According to the charge sheet, the police were hacked and beaten to death while some sect members are accused of firing on bystanders, killing 13 civilians.

The defence counsel says the sect members were praying and chanting when police emerged on the scene and had no intention of causing trouble.

If found guilty of aggravated homicide the accused could face jail terms of up to 30 years.