25 September 2012

Angola: Presidential Guards' Trial to Resume

The trial of 15 soldiers of the Angola's Presidential Guard will resume in the Luanda Regional Military Tribunal on Friday, September 28.

The members of the Central Protection and Security Unit (DCPS) in the Military Bureau of the Angolan Presidency are accused of the crime of making "demands in a group", for claiming fair wages and better working conditions.

During the September 21 hearing, the judge heard three witnesses to try to establish whether the accused had made group demands in an unruly or riotous manner, as they are accused of doing. The witnesses confirmed only that the soldiers had delivered a petition without any provocative or aggressive behaviour.

At an earlier session on September 18, the military judge suspended the session in order to assess whether the law in terms of which the men were accused was in line with the Angolan Constitution. The Law on Military Crimes of 1994 forbids soldiers from making collective demands that involve unrest or riots. The accused simply addressed a petition, which was signed by 224 soldiers, to the commander of the Presidential Guard Unit (UGP), Lieutenant-General Alfredo Tyaunda, who supervises the DCPS. The Constitution also establishes that all Angolans "have the right to present, individually or collectively, to sovereign institutions or other authorities, petitions, denunciations, claims or complaints to defend their rights, the Constitution, the law or the general interest".

The accused chose to remain silent during the hearing, taking the position that they were protected by their constitutional right to defend their rights collectively.

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