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Angolan journalist sentenced for asking police their side of story

Angolan journalist sentenced for asking police their side of story

Queiroz Chilúvia, journalist of privately-owned Radio Despertar, who went to the police station to ask cops why prisoners were screaming, has been sentenced for 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years for slander and defamation, Maka Angola reported yesterday.

The sentence has been handed down by Judge Gamboa who presided over the case at the Cacuaco Municipal Court, the private online publication said.

Cops arrested Chilúvia on the spot on 2 February and criminally charged him for slander and defamation – an arrest and a charge that irked media rights activists, including the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Though Chiluvia, who was held incommunicado since Sunday, walked out of jail, his ‘unfair’ sentence angered the country’s media fraternity, who believes Chilúvia’s sentence is an attack on press freedom in Angola.

“This suspended sentence is a message to all journalists to keep quiet,” Alexandre Solombe, journalist and president of Media Institute of Southern Africa-Angola, was quoted by Maka Angola as saying.

Angola is a dangerous country for critical journalists to operate in, as any criticism of the country’s institutions, the MPLA-led government  and President José Eduardo dos Santos – in power since 1979 – is usually punished by lengthy jail terms, and sometimes assassination.

Photo: Queiroz Chilúvia. Credit: Maka Angola

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