Extra Edition: 147 Activists Face Death Penalty in Equatorial Guinea.
AFP* reports this bleak breaking news from my former host country. It follows on the heels of the news about a coup attempt, firings, arrests and the blocking of channels such as Facebook. (See my two previous posts.)
February 14, 2018 – EURACTIV.com with AFP – “Equatorial Guinea’s public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty in the trial of 147 opposition activists accused of ‘rebellion,’ their lawyer said yesterday (14 February). The activists, including senior officials of the main opposition party, the Citizens for Innovation (CI), were arrested following elections in November.”
Fabian Nsue, the lawyer for the defendants, said, “The prosecutor is requesting the death penalty against all the opponents.”
He recited the charges against the defendants — “rebellion, attacks against authority, public disorder and serious injury and damage.”
According to Nsue, the trial is taking place at the High Court in Mongomo, Obiang’s hometown. The government has not responded to AFP’s request for comment, but diplomatic sources have confirmed Nsue’s statement.
The opposition party, CI, said about 30 of the defendants “could not stand up at the trial on Tuesday because they had been ‘tortured’ while in detention at police headquarters in [Malabo]….”
“We will go to the international courts and the ICC (International Criminal Court) for crimes against humanity,” CI said.
They predict that if nothing is done to help the 147 on trial then “all of them will die like Santiago Ebee Ela” – a 41-year-old activist who died last month. CI says that Ela died in Malabo’s police headquarters after being tortured. https://www.euractiv.com/section/freedom-of-thought/news/lawyer-147-activists-face-death-penalty-in-equatorial-guinea/
I’m familiar with Malabo’s police headquarters. On November 24, 1970, our family and the other two Americans in Equatorial Guinea sheltered in the U.S. Residence, across the street from the police station. It was a day of murder and mayhem in the streets of Malabo (then Santa Isabel), the one-square-mile capital city.
We would stay all night under the protection of the American flag.
“Our embassy Residence with its spacious entry hall and curving staircase stood on a slight rise a block from the harbor. Across the street sprawled the hacienda-style police station. The juxtaposition was jarring—serenity and hospitality on one side of the street, official torture and murder on the other. But on this night, most of the killing was a few blocks away.” From “The Terror” in my upcoming memoir Vaccines & Bayonets: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War.
It would appear that torture of inmates in that police station continues to be a regular occurrence.
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As I return to posting about smallpox and other topics from my memoir, I will continue to do extra edition posts as warranted by breaking news.
* NOTE: Much of the news from Africa is reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP) and appears in British, European or South African news outlets. AFP is an international news agency headquartered in Paris. Founded in its present form in 1944, but with history going back to 1835, AFP is the third largest news agency in the world, after the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.
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