Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has hailed the Friday’s release of human rights defender, José Marcos Mavungo, after the Angola Supreme Tribunal upheld his appeal against a six year sentence is a long overdue triumph for justice.
Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday night that he has served over a year in prison following his arrest on 14 March 2015.
He was convicted on 14 September for “rebellion” for his involvement in organizing a peaceful demonstration. Amnesty International considered him a prisoner of conscience.
“José Marcos Mavungo was merely exercising his rights to freedom of assembly and association and his arrest and subsequent trial on rebellion charge was a travesty of justice,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
“Whilst his release is cause for celebration, José Marcos Mavungo should never have spent a single minute in jail. The decision by the Angola Supreme Tribunal demonstrates that there are still judges who are guided by the rule of law,” Muchena said.
Amnesty International said Marcos Mavungo was initially arrested on 14 March 2015 and accused of “sedition” for organising a peaceful demonstration. On 19 March 2015, the court ruled that the charge was unfounded.
On 27 May 2015, he was formally charged with “rebellion”, but was only officially informed of his indictment on 22 June. His trial started on 25 August and he was convicted on 14 September. He was kept in pre-trial detention from the time of his arrest.
The Angolan Supreme Tribunal heard the appeal on 19 May and acquitted the activist. It found that there was no evidence to convict him.