Luanda Trial

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The Luanda Trial was a trial held in Luanda, Angola, in June 1976 during the Angolan Civil War. Thirteen Western mercenaries were sentenced to either long prison terms or execution by firing squad.

Luanda City in Angola

Luanda, formerly named São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda, is the capital and largest city in Angola, It is Angola's primary port, and its major industrial, cultural and urban centre. Located on Angola's northern coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and its administrative centre. It is also the capital city of Luanda Province. Luanda and its metropolitan area is the most populous Portuguese-speaking capital city in the world, with over 8 million inhabitants in 2019. Among the oldest colonial cities of Africa, it was founded in January 1576 by Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais, under the name of São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda. The city served as the centre of the slave trade to Brazil before its prohibition. At the start of the Angolan Civil War in 1975, most of the white Portuguese left as refugees, principally for Portugal. Luanda's population increased greatly from refugees fleeing the war, but its infrastructure was inadequate to handle the increase. This also caused the exacerbation of slums, or musseques, around Luanda. The city is currently undergoing a major reconstruction, with many large developments taking place that will alter its cityscape significantly.

Angola country in Africa

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a west-coast country of south-central Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola has an exclave province, the province of Cabinda that borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda.

Angolan Civil War Armed conflict in Angola between 1975 and 2002

The Angolan Civil War was a civil conflict in Angola, beginning in 1975 and continuing, with interludes, until 2002. The war began immediately after Angola became independent from Portugal in November 1975. The war was a power struggle between two former liberation movements, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The war was used as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War by rival states such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, South Africa and the United States.

Contents

Background

Angola had gained its independence from Portugal on 11 November 1975, but the new country was immediately immersed in a three-sided civil war. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba, while the United States and some of its allies backed the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

MPLA political party

The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, for some years called the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party, is a political party that has ruled Angola since the country's independence from Portugal in 1975. The MPLA fought against the Portuguese army in the Angolan War of Independence of 1961–74, and defeated the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), two other anti-colonial movements, in the Angolan Civil War of 1975–2002.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Thirteen mercenaries fighting for the FNLA – nine British, three American and one Irish – were captured by MPLA forces by mid-February 1976. [1] On May 26, they were indicted by the People's Revolutionary Court in Luanda. [1] [2]

An indictment is a criminal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that use the concept of felonies, the most serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that do not use the felonies concept often use that of an indictable offence, an offence that requires an indictment.

Trial

The trial lasted from June 11 to June 16. There were five judges. The presiding judge was Ernesto Teixeira da Silva, the Attorney General of Angola. [1] The other judges were the Director of Angolan Television, two military officers and a member of the National Council of Women in Angola. [1] Guilty verdicts were a foregone conclusion; before the trial had even begun, Luis de Almeida, the Director of Information and Security, stated that the defendants were guilty and that the only thing that needed to be determined was how much punishment to mete out. [1] The following sentences were passed on June 28, 1976: [1]

Execution by firing squad:

Costas Georgiou British mercenary

Costas Georgiou was an ethnic Greek Cypriot, British mercenary executed in Angola following the Luanda Trial for activities during the civil war phase of the Angolan War of Independence.

30 years' imprisonment:

24 years' imprisonment:

16 years' imprisonment:

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

Some of the verdicts had been expected, especially regarding Callan; one of his fellow mercenaries described him as "a homicidal maniac, who spent a lot of time killing blacks just for fun". [1] However, Gearhart had arrived in Angola only days before his capture; defense lawyers provided evidence he had never fired a shot, and probably had not even participated in combat. Acker, an ex-Marine, had been shot in the leg and taken prisoner in his very first taste of combat within five days after arriving in the country. [3] British Prime Minister James Callaghan reportedly requested Angolan President Agostinho Neto to show mercy to the men. [2]

Nevertheless, the four condemned men were executed by MPLA military police on July 10, 1976. [1] According to British former mercenaries Chris Dempster and Dave Tomkins, only McKenzie was killed outright. Callan and Gearhart were killed by coup de grace, while Barker, who was unscathed but had apparently fainted, was shot after waking up while his 'body' was being removed on a stretcher. [4]

Aftermath

The two remaining Americans, Grillo and Acker, were released in November 1982 in a prisoner exchange worked out by the United States Department of State. [5] The British and Irish prisoners were released in 1984 after negotiation by the British Foreign Office. [6]

Notes

Citations

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Hoover, Mike J. (1977). "The Laws of War and the Angolan Trial of Mercenaries: Death to the Dogs of War". Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law . 9 (2).
  2. 1 2 "1976: Death sentence for mercenaries". BBC News. Retrieved January 6, 2008.
  3. Donner, Al; Walters, Dan (June 28, 1976). "For Soldier of Fortune Gary Acker, a Luckless Road Runs Out in Faraway Angola". People .
  4. Dempster, Chris (1980). Fire Power. London: St Martin's Press. ISBN   9780312291150.
  5. "3 Held by Angola Return to U.S." The New York Times . November 18, 1982.
  6. "Angola. British mercenaries released after 8 years". Associated Press Archive.

Bibliography

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