Lawyers hired to defend Portuguese-Angolan businessman Carlos Sao Vicente have filed a new request to secure the businessman’s release, as well as a petition challenging the legality of his detainment under writs of habeas corpus.
Under the legal action filed in late 2021, the lawyers accused the Angolan authorities of “total disrespect” and extending his preventive detention beyond the legal time limit.
According to a DW report, the first three requests for habeas corpus were rejected in the first instance and the last has not yet been reviewed.
In the same vein, the first three requests for release were also rejected, while the two most recent requests, one based on excessive preventive detention and the other on the poor condition of his health, await the court’s response.
The lawyers argued that Vicente’s arrest is illegal and detrimental to his health due to an underlining sickness and health challenges. They explained that, aside from the risks posed by his personal health issues, his detainment has put him at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
They also argued that the deadline for preventative detention as provided for by law has been exceeded and that not knowing the date of his trial violates “the most elementary human rights, such as the right to life, to liberty, to the presumption of innocence and a justice that grants citizens treatment as equals.”
The legal action comes after the businessman exceeded the stipulated period that an arrested person can remain in detention in Angola without trial. It follows a prolonged legal battle in Angola, in which Vicente, the owner of the AAA Seguros insurance firm, was arrested and accused of embezzlement, tax fraud and money laundering in an amount exceeding $1 billion.
In an apparent move to swiftly deliver justice, Angola’s attorney general earlier seized buildings and hotels linked to Vicente. Assets worth $900 million were also frozen by the Swiss authorities.
Vicente was once a prominent figure in Angola’s oil industry, heading a group of companies, including AAA Seguros, which sold insurance and reinsurance contracts to the state oil company, Sonangol.