Ver Angola


Defense of Carlos de São Vicente calls for immediate release for excessive preventive detention

The defense of Portuguese-Angolan businessman Carlos de São Vicente, detained in Luanda since 22 September 2020, this Friday called for his “immediate release”, for excessive preventive detention.


In a statement, dated from Geneva and Paris, to which Lusa agency had access, the defense of Carlos São Vicente - accused by the Angolan justice of several crimes, including tax fraud continued for five years, with amounts in excess of one billion euros - also calls for respect for the fundamental rights of its constituent by the Angolan justice system.

The lawyers also draw attention to "the inadmissible and illegal practices of the Angolan authorities, which have already been denounced to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the African Commission on Human and Populations' Rights".

In the statement, the defense said that Carlos de São Vicente has been in preventive detention for over a year, being "a victim of serious and repeated violations of his most fundamental rights, committed by the Angolan judicial authorities".

According to the defense, for several months the Portuguese-Angolan businessman "has been a victim of various violations of the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial or the right to an effective defense".

"To this are added conditions of detention contrary to any idea of ​​dignity, which concretely put his life in danger", the lawyers also denounce, reiterating that the preventive detention of Carlos de São Vicente has been "illegal and arbitrary since the beginning of the process, for being used as a means of pressure driven by political considerations", warning that it "has come to an end today".

"In fact, Angolan law provides that preventive detention cannot exceed 12 months without conviction in the first instance, and this period may be exceptionally extended up to 14 months if we are facing a particularly complex process", they stress.

If the Angolan authorities have effectively extended the detention to 14 months, the defense emphasizes in the statement, in the case of its constituent, this period ended on November 22, 2021, "without any conviction in the first instance and without any another extension of detention has been validly notified".

The lawyers further argue that, in accordance with Angolan procedural law, the Portuguese-Angolan businessman should therefore "have been immediately released on November 23, 2021".

"Now, the Angolan authorities refuse to release him and persist in keeping him detained, in flagrant violation of the right. They did not even deign to respond to the urgent requests for release addressed to them by the defense team", he complains still the defense.

For their lawyers, "no one is above the law, nor the lord of St. Vincent more than anyone else, but each person must expect a State to respect its own laws and human dignity".

"The gentleman of São Vicente, who has always affirmed his innocence and collaborated with the authorities in criminal proceedings, asks that he be treated by the Angolan authorities like any other citizen," the statement said.

"The lawyers of Mr. de São Vicente hope that the Angolan justice has the courage to confirm the illegality of these practices and to recognize his innocence during the process that will take place in Luanda in the coming weeks", stresses the defense.

In addition to the crime of tax fraud, the businessman is also accused of embezzlement and money laundering crime on a continual basis.

According to the indictment, the businessman, who for almost two decades had the monopoly of insurance and reinsurance by the Angolan state oil company Sonangol, will have set up a triangular scheme, with companies in Angola, London and Bermuda, which generated losses for the Angolan treasury, in fiscal terms, in an amount in excess of 1.2 billion dollars.

The Angolan judicial authorities ordered the seizure of assets and bank accounts belonging to businessman Carlos de São Vicente, and the Attorney General's Office of the Republic of Angola also requested the freezing of bank accounts and the seizure of assets of Irene Neto, daughter of the first Angolan president. Agostinho Neto, and the businessman's wife.


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