Ver Angola


Journalists' union condemns impediment of journalists in the trial of Carlos São Vicente

The National Union of Angolan Journalists (SJA) condemned this Friday the impediments to journalistic coverage of the trial of Portuguese-Angolan businessman Carlos São Vicente, in Luanda, considering it to be “arbitrary and obstruction of press freedom”.


Journalists, assigned to different national and foreign bodies, were this Friday prevented from accessing the courtroom of the Luanda District Court, where the trial of businessman Carlos São Vicente, indicted for crimes of embezzlement and tax fraud, began.

Edson Escrivão is the judge of the case in this trial that takes place in the 3rd Criminal Section of the Luanda District Court.

The start of the trial was scheduled for January 26, but it was postponed to this Friday, but at the entrance a justice official informed the journalists that they should not capture images or sound, but only take notes. However, journalists were prevented from following the session.

"We understand that there is arbitrariness here, it is regrettable, it is a clear obstruction to freedom of the press, it is absolutely reprehensible, because in the same terms in which the judge uses the law, we also use the law, because it is the law that authorizes us to be able to be present at the hearings", said this Friday the secretary general of the union, Teixeira Cândido, in statements to the press.

The union leader, who was speaking this Friday at the Luanda District Court, where journalists were prevented from covering the beginning of the trial of Carlos São Vicente, allegedly by order of the judge, disapproved of this stance, referring that the matter "is of interest public".

"If it were a matter of the defendant's private sphere, the journalists would obviously not have devoted all their effort. The judge's position and all the arguments he may present are condemnable anyway, because the judge, like another anyone, must rely on the law," he argued.

For the journalists present at the court, the arguments of the bailiff, who alleges guidance from the judge in the case, translates into an impediment, "since the hearing is public", having considered the judge's guidance "inexplicable".

"This is a completely inexplicable situation, we were no longer used to having these difficulties in the relationship with the court, and we were not given the specific reason for the court to prevent our work in covering this trial, which is public", he told Lusa. Leão Vital, journalist for TV Zimbo, member of the group that was "barred".

Sebastião Numa, a journalist from Rádio Despertar, was part of the group that did not access the Luanda District Court room and also "condemned" the impediment, which in his opinion, "offends press freedom".

"Because we came here to cover an act that is public, as the Constitution and other laws say, but we immediately found an obstacle here by order of the judge in the case. We regret the judge's behavior and ask for clarification", he stressed.

The secretary general of the SJA, who, upon learning of the fact, went to court, also said that the judge, "although he is the owner of the hearing, has no discretion to determine who and when people should enter".

The judge, noted Teixeira Cândido, "cannot, on a 'motu propriety' basis, or because the defendant, supposedly, will have asked that he not be exposed, prevent the press from having access to a hearing and from recording, for example, , the indictment and all other parts that are not prohibited by law".

"And yes, we could record the accusation, because it does not offend private life or the reservation of private life. That is why it is absolutely reprehensible, the union vehemently condemns the judge's position", he reaffirmed.

"And we understand that we should in fact boycott this hearing so that they understand that the judge, as well as the defendant himself, are much more harmed", he stressed.

Teixeira Cândido also tried to overcome the situation with the court's management: "Unfortunately the judge and all other people who could allow this interaction were not available, from that point of view we regret", he said.

A note of protest from the SJA on the matter will be sent to the presiding judge of the Court of the District of Luanda and to the Association of Judges of Angola, because, he maintained, "it is not the first time that situations of this kind have happened".

"The judge, in fact, we respect, is in the exercise of his functions, but he is limited to respecting the law. The law establishes that we can record the hearing with the exception of those pieces that may offend the reservation of privacy", he concluded. Teixeira Candido.

The trial of Carlos São Vicente, arrested since September 2020 on charges of embezzlement, tax fraud and money laundering, began this Friday at the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Luanda District Court, but was postponed due to "late notification " to the defendant.

The businessman, married to Irene Neto, daughter of the first Angolan president, António Agostinho Neto, has been in preventive detention since September 2020 and is accused of several crimes, including tax fraud, involving amounts in excess of one billion euros, embezzlement and money laundering. of capital.


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