"Great news indeed": Trial of Angolan investigative journalist ends

Index on Censorship welcomes the end of investigative journalist's trial on criminal defamation charges.

21 May 2015
Journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

The trial of Index award winning investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais ended 21 May 2015 after the charges were dropped.

“Great news indeed,” Marques de Morais told Index.

“In light of a number of free speech concerns in the region, it’s vital that the charges against Rafael Marques de Morais have been dropped. Rafael’s crucial investigations into human rights abuses in Angola should not be impeded,” said Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg.

Marques de Morais was being sued for libel by a group of generals in connection to his work exposing corruption and serious human rights violations connected to the diamond trade in his native Angola.

The case was directly linked to Marques de Morais’ 2011 book Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola. In it, he recounted 500 cases of torture and 100 murders of villagers living near diamond mines, carried out by private security companies and military officials. He filed charges of crimes against humanity against seven generals, holding them morally responsible for atrocities committed. After his case was dropped by the prosecution, the generals retaliated with a series of libel lawsuits in Angola and Portugal.

Marques de Morais originally faced nine charges of defamation, but on his first court appearance on 23 March was handed down an additional 15 charges. The proceedings were marked by heavy police presence, and five people were arrested. The trial opened just days after he was named joint winner of the 2015 Index Award for journalism.

The parties had been negotiating to try and find some “common ground”, Marques de Morais told Index in late April, but the talks broke down. His case was postponed to 14 May while the talks were ongoing.

The resumption of the trial came amid allegations of a massacre of members of a religious sect that Marques de Morais reported on for The Guardian. MakaAngola, Marques de Morais’ investigative journalism site, was knocked offline for a short period after The Guardian article.

This article was posted on 21 May 2015 at

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