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Today’s release of human rights defender José Marcos Mavungo after the Angola Supreme Tribunal upheld his appeal against a six-year sentence is a long overdue triumph for justice, said Amnesty International.

He has served over a year in prison following his arrest on March 14, 2015. He was convicted on September 14 for ‘rebellion’ for his involvement in organizing a peaceful demonstration. Amnesty International considered him a prisoner of conscience.

“José Marcos Mavungo was merely exercising his rights to freedom of assembly and association and his arrest and subsequent trial on rebellion charge was a travesty of justice,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

“Whilst his release is cause for celebration, José Marcos Mavungo should never have spent a single minute in jail. The decision by the Angola Supreme Tribunal demonstrates that there are still judges who are guided by the rule of law.”

Background

José Marcos Mavungo was initially arrested on March 14, 2015 and accused of "sedition" for organizing a peaceful demonstration. On March 19, 2015, the court ruled that the charge was unfounded.

On May 27, 2015, he was formally charged with ‘rebellion’, but was only officially informed of his indictment on June 22. His trial started on August 25 and he was convicted on September 14. He was kept in pre-trial detention from the time of his arrest.

The Angolan Supreme Tribunal heard the appeal on May 19 and acquitted the activist. It found that there was no evidence to convict him.