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17 Angolan activists granted amnesty

Seventeen Angolan activists sentenced to prison in March and placed on probation since June, were granted amnesty by the country’s courts.

One of their lawyers told AFP on Wednesday AFP that they are now free.

“The 17 young revolutionaries have been granted amnesty. They are now free,” Walter Tondela said.

We do not want amnesty … it is foolish to pardon innocent citizens. There are only two ways, we are innocent or we return to jail.

The activists including rapper Luaty Beirao were in March handed sentences of between two and eight years in prison, but were released in June to serve out the rest of the sentences at home.

They were to report monthly to the police and are not allowed to leave the Angolan territory.

Their freedom now is as a result of a law passed in July authorizing amnesty to all those serving maximum sentences of 12 years in prison for non-violent crimes.

Meanwhile, activists arrested in June 2015 and have spent a year in prison have appealed their cases to clear their names.

“We do not want amnesty … it is foolish to pardon innocent citizens. There are only two ways, we are innocent or we return to jail,” one of the activists Sedrick Carvalho said.

“Amnesty is only a means for President dos Santos to clean his dictatorial image,” he added.

The activists were arrested last year during a book club meeting at which one of the books entitled “Tools to destroy a dictatorship and avoid a new dictatorship” talked about non-violent resistance to repressive regimes.

The activists say they are peaceful campaigners seeking the departure of dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979 and rules the oil-rich country with an iron fist.

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