The trial of dissidents charged with rebellion against Angola’s government is expected to resume on Monday, after being abruptly adjourned before Christmas last year.
The case, which has been carefully monitored by international media, has targeted a group of 17 people. The group is made up of one famous Angolan rapper, students, journalists and former military.
The activists were arrested and detained by Angolan security forces between 20 and 24 June 2015 in Luanda after attending a book-reading club meeting, to discuss politics and governance issues.
Political dissidence has been growing in Angola in the past decade, with parts of the population resenting the allegedly corrupt regime and its disregard for wealth distribution.
President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, and leader of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), has been the country’s head of state since 1979.
In 2010, he secured his place in office by introducing a constitutional change which implied that the head of the party with the most seats in Parliament would automatically become President.
The President has pushed through with the trial despite widespread criticism from international human rights groups describing the detention as a “travesty of justice” (Amnesty International).
The defendants – who have all denied the charges – risk jail terms of up to 12 years if found guilty of “rebellion and a coup attempt.”
In December last year, 14 of them addressed a letter to Dos Santos, threatening to go on hunger strike over what they perceived as an unfair judicial process.
They also condemned the refusal by authorities to allow international observers at the trial.