Angolan journalist detained for asking police their side of story

Angolan journalist detained for asking police their side of story

An Angolan radio journalist’s life took a dramatic turn when he was walking past a police station on the outskirts of the capital Luanda on Sunday and heard prisoners’ screams.

Queirós Anastácio Chilúvia (38), deputy editor of private Radio Despertar, later decided to go to the National Command Post police station in Cacuaco to ask for comment about those screams.

The police then locked him up and swiftly charged him with slander and defamation, according to Maka Angola, an online independent outlet highly critical of the MPLA-led government.

He has been held since Sunday without access to his family and lawyer, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said yesterday, calling for his immediate release.

Chilúvia first called in a live report to Radio Despertar, saying he heard prisoners screaming from the station, Media Institute of Southern Africa-Angola chairman Alexandre Neto told CPJ, adding that Chilúvia then went to the police station to ask what was happening, and was arrested.

The journalist’s lawyer, Africano Cangombe, told CPJ that the police accused Chilúvia of defamation and of making false statements against the police.

“To arrest a journalist for asking police for their side of the story is absurd,” CPJ Africa programme coordinator Sue Valentine said in a statement.  Chilúvia is no risk to society. Authorities should release him immediately,” she added.

Cangombe said the case had been referred for further investigation because of a lack of evidence and that the journalist would remain in police custody.  The maximum period that police may detain someone without bringing evidence is eight days, Neto said.

(by CPJ, edited by Issa Sikiti da Silva)

Photo: The city of Luanda, capital of oil-rich Angola

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