The Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s Office dismissed, yesterday, a criminal complaint lodged by nine Angolan generals against journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques, and the publishing house Tinta-da-China, following the publication of “Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola”.
Marques’ book, which was published in Portugal in 2011, is a chilling account of systematic human rights abuses by soldiers of the Angolan Armed Forces and guards of Teleservice, the largest private security company in the country. The generals are shareholders of both the diamond mining company Sociedade Mineira do Cuango, and its security contractor Teleservice. The book details several cases of murder with more than 100 victims, and dozens of torture cases with more than 500 victims.
The generals alleged that the author defamed and slandered them. However, the Public Prosecutor, having examined the documentation entered into evidence, found that the publication of the book fell within the legitimate exercise of a basic right, freedom of information and expression, protected under the Constitution, which, in this case, overrides other rights. The Public Prosecutor ruled that there was a lack of evidence that Mr. Marques defamed the generals, and it established that the investigative material presented in the book was of the public interest.
After the publication of the book, in November 2011, the author lodged a criminal complaint, in Angola, against the generals and the executives of Sociedade Mineira do Cuango, for crimes against humanity. A year later, the Office of the Attorney General informed the author that his complaint had been shelved for lack of evidence, without undertaking any field investigation.