Angola’s Vice-President to be tried for corruption in Portugal

It has already been made quite clear that he will not be turning up in person, but news this week is that Angola’s vice-president Manuel Vicente will be tried for corruption in Portugal nonetheless.

It’s a decision that could create a number of ‘diplomatic issues’ (as Angola has already intimated: click here), and has most recently prompted Angola’s minister of justice to declare he is “stupified” by Portugal’s degree of disrespect in continuing a path towards prosecution “without guidance from Angola” (click here).

The situation is further complicated by the fact that Vicente could end up standing trial (in his absence) without ever having been formally charged.

This is because, under Angolan law, he enjoys immunity from prosecution, and Portugal’s request to have this immunity lifted has not had the benefit of an answer, despite numerous attempts to get one.

Considering the attitude of Angola’s justice minister, it probably never will.

So where does that leave Operation Fizz – the rather unlikely name given to this investigation?

As national media pointed out some time ago, it could conceivably get to a point where the vice- president of Angola could never travel to Europe, as a conviction in Portugal would lead to an international arrest warrant with which authorities throughout the continent would be bound to comply.

Of course, it hasn’t got to that yet, but it looks like it could be getting there.

For now, Lisbon’s court of criminal instruction has ruled that Vicente, as well as ‘arguidos’ who have been officially made aware of the charges they are facing, should be sent for trial.

Operation Fizz centres on Vicente having allegedly paid Portuguese prosecutor Orlando Figueira around €760,000 to ensure that two investigations for corruption, and involving him personally, would be archived.

Figueira has been jailed on remand – and later released to house arrest on an electronic bracelet – since Fizz detectives moved in on the investigation early last year (click here).

Also cited in the case moving to trial are Lisbon lawyer Paulo Amaral Blanco and Manuel Vicente’s representative in Portugal, businessman Armindo Perpétuo Pires.

[email protected]

PHOTO: Manuel Vicente