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Angolan journalist jailed for libel

Published on 11/10/2011

An Angolan journalist faces a year in prison for libel after he published allegations of corruption by the military elite.

A Luanda court gave William Tonet, editor of the newspaper Folha 8, five days to pay 10 million kwanzas ($106,000, 77,000 euro) in damages or spend a year in jail for a 2008-article in which he had accused three generals of the Angolan Armed Forces of self-enrichment and power abuse.

The journalist told AFP he was being targeted by the ruling party MPLA, in power since independence from Portugal in 1975.

“For the MPLA regime I am a man to beat down,” he said.

“Where are we going to find the money to pay to the claimants? I prefer to go to prison,” he said.

Angolan President Jose dos Santos has periodically cracked down on opposition to his government in the oil-rich country, one of the most unequal in the world.

Police violently repressed popular demonstrations that started in March this year following the Arab Spring uprisings.

Young people born after independence and not bound by historical loyalty to the ruling party took to the streets, growing from a dozen to 300 last month.

The sentence against the journalist was disproportionate, Tonet’s lawyer David Mendes said.

“The findings of the court do not correspond to the basic norms of the law and the fine is exorbitant.”

“It is incomprehensible,” he continued.

“Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ regime wants to imprison William Tonet at all costs,” said Mendes.