Son of Angolan ex-president to remain in custody

Wednesday February 6 2019

Mr José Filomeno dos Santos (Zenu). FILE |

Mr José Filomeno dos Santos (Zenu). FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The son of Angolan former President José Eduardo dos Santos will remain in custody, a Luanda court has ruled.

The state-owned Jornal de Angola reported that the Constitutional Court (CC) had turned down an appeal for the release of Mr José Filomeno dos Santos, aka Zenú, who is facing fraud charges.

Mr Zenú lawyers had asked CC to grant their client freedom, as his lawsuit proceeded.

“CC's seven judges have declined [José Filomeno dos Santos] lawyers’ petition as the court has not violated any right in accordance with the country’s constitution,” the Jornal de Angola reported Tuesday.

The paper said that the lawyers had challenged the continued detention on grounds that it violated the innocence presumption principle.

His safety

However, the paper added, CC reasoned that Mr Zenú's continued detention was aimed at guaranteeing his safety, preventing interference with the investigations and averting his possible escape.

The Supreme Court (SC) last November ruled that Mr Zenú would remain in detention for 25 more days, following the expiry of his initial 45 in custody.

The son of the former president was detained in September at the São Paulo Prison in Luanda, following his arrest. He is at the centre of the suspect transfer of $500 million from the Angolan sovereign fund, which he once headed.

The money was allegedly transferred from the Angolan Reserve Bank to the Credit Suisse Bank in the UK.

The Attorney General's office said the arrest followed investigations, which though were still continuing, had produced enough evidence implicating two defendants, among them Mr Zenú.

Sovereign fund

Angolan authorities last March barred Mr Zenú from leaving the country.

President João Lourenço has waged an anti-corruption war that has seen several close associates of his predecessor implicated in wrongdoing.

He took over following an election marking the end of President dos Santos's 38-year reign.

President Lourenço sacked Mr Zenú as the head of the strategic sovereign fund last year.

The president also sacked Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s eldest daughter, as the chair of the board of the state-owned oil firm Sonangol.