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Angolan investigative journalist settles defamation case over blood diamonds book

Rafael Marques de Morais/Makaangola.org

This statement was originally published on misa.org on 22 May 2015.

Charges of defamation against journalist Marques de Morais were dropped on May 21 following an out-of-court settlement. The case stemmed from his 2011 book, "Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola," in which he documented the torture and murder of villagers by private security forces that controlled the diamond mines. Marques de Morais originally faced nine charges of defamation on March 23 brought by at least seven military generals who owned the security firms, but the court added 15 more and postponed the trial until May 14. During the delay, parties involved had been negotiating to find "common ground," he said in April.

According to news reports, Marques held a private meeting with the seven generals leading to Thursday's deal. It has been confirmed that the British, Mozambican and Angolan directors and partners of ITM Mining, which feature in his book, also dropped charges.

During the proceedings yesterday, the author acknowledged that he had not contacted the generals before writing the book, but had reported the human rights abuses to the security companies. "I only learned in court that the companies never informed (the generals). I acknowledged the explanation they gave to me,” he said. The cases of torture and murder that were outlined in the book never came into question, he added.

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What other IFEX members are saying
  • Withdrawal of charges against journalist hailed as free speech victory

    In his book “Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola,” published in Portugal in 2011, he documented 500 cases of torture and 100 murders of villagers by military personnel and private security companies, and accused the generals of endorsing these “crimes against humanity.” Marques agreed yesterday not to republish his book, which remains available in electronic form. This undertaking was a “voluntary action designed to facilitate dialogue and future exchanges of information,” said Marques, who intends to continue investigating human rights in the Lundas region.



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