Africa

Four activists jailed for links to Togo attack group

An Angolan soldier stands guard, file pic
Image caption Angola tightened security in Cabinda after the attack

Four human rights activists have been jailed in Angola for reported links with a separatist group which attacked the Togolese football team in January.

University professor Belchior Lanso was sentenced to six years in prison and lawyer Francisco Luemba and Catholic priest Raul Tati to five years each.

Former police officer Jose Benjamin Fuca was jailed for three years.

They were said to have met exiled leaders of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda in Paris.

Amnesty International and other groups have condemned the ruling.

The rights organisations say Angola is using the 30-minute machine gun attack on the Togolese football team to justify a crackdown on critics.

Two Togolese officials and an Angolan bus driver were killed in the shooting in January, ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. A faction of Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Flec) said they carried out the attack.

Two men remain in custody over the shooting.

'Dialogue'

The jailed group were among several rights campaigners arrested in Cabinda after the shooting, and are expected to appeal the sentence.

The BBC's Louise Redvers says the four men are believed to have met with exiled Flec leaders in Paris to try to set up dialogue with the Angolan government in a bid to seek an end to the decades of violent struggle in the province.

Jose Marcos Mavungo, an independent human rights activist who watched the trial, said it was marked by contradictory evidence about the charges, at first focusing on the attack but later shifting to Paris meetings with Flec.

Flec has been fighting for independence for three decades in Cabinda, an area separated from Angola by a strip of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Despite being rich in oil, the region is one of the poorest in the country.

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