New York, November 29, 1999 –Rafael Marques, a freelance journalist and Angola representative of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, was released on bail on November 25, after spending 40 days in prison. His trial is scheduled to begin on December 15.
Marques had been in police custody since October 16. Angolan police informally accused him of defamation in connection with an article that he published in a July edition of the independent weekly newspaper Agora. In the article, Marques referred to President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos as a “dictator.”
Marques was not formally charged until just before his release, although even then the precise charges against him could not be confirmed. He was initially refused access to a lawyer and to his family, and went on hunger strike for eight days to protest his detention. On October 26, the Angolan attorney general refused Marques’ bail application, without any explanation
Marques is currently under house arrest. He is forbidden to contact the media or make public statements.