LUANDA, Sept 20 – An Angolan court late Monday freed 27 activists, including the head of the opposition’s youth wing, who were arrested after police set dogs on them to break up a protest outside a court.
The activists were arrested on September 8 and charged with attacking security forces, but the court freed them citing a lack of evidence, according to an AFP reporter at the hearing.
“The only option for these youth was to free them, because there was no proof to back up the charges that they had attacked the security forces,” a lawyer for the activists, William Tonet, told AFP.
The activists were arrested while protesting a trial where 17 people were sentenced to up to 45 days in prison over a protest against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Police violently broke up the September 3 protest where hundreds of people calling themselves the Young Revolutionaries Movement rallied against Dos Santos’s 32-year rule, complaining that most Angolans lack even basic services like running water and electricity.
Nfuca Muzemba, head of the youth wing of the opposition Union for the Total Independence of Angola, said after his release that the activists had been beaten while in custody.
“Justice was served without political interference. The trial judge did his job. But unfortunately we were mistreated, beaten by some police at the place where we were detained. The regime’s logic of persecution still goes on,” he told AFP.
The activists, mostly university students and some popular rappers who sing against Dos Santos, plan a new protest Saturday in Luanda to demand the release of the protesters still in jail.