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Alleged Video of Soldiers Beating Civilian Shocks São Tomé and Príncipe

Screenshot from the video published in You Tube.

Screenshot from the video published in You Tube.

An amateur video shared on January 14, 2015, on a Facebook group called STP Denuncias has brought to light the alleged beating of a civilian by officers of the Armed Forces of São Tomé and Principe.  

The original post—almost a year old now—was deleted some time ago, but the radio station Radio Somos Todos Primos (We Are All Cousins Radio) republished it, renewing the public's attention on the event:

Ontem foi divulgado nas redes sociais um vídeo da qual dá conhecer que, alegadamente, figuras com alta patente militar de S. Tomé e Príncipe terá utilizado abusivamente da força contra um civil.
Devemos todos denunciar até que se apure as responsabilidades:
http://bit.ly/denunciafacebook

Yesterday, a video allegedly showing high-ranking soldiers from S. Tomé and Príncipe using excessive force against a civilian was shared on social networks. We must all speak out until responsibility has been established: http://bit.ly/denunciafacebook

The video, which has angered human rights advocates both within and beyond São Tomé and Príncipe, features a beating that lasts approximately 15 minutes. The victim was accused of stealing.

Reacting to the video, Radio Somos Todos Primos‘ audience shared its disgust online. One reader, Luizenda Rolim, commented:

Esta ilha que esses ditos senhores comandam e julgam ser a sua propriedade nunca ira sera melhor que isso…. todos os seres humano que rouba, mata ou droga existe lei tribunal , policia de investigação criminal ou policia nacional ….isso não se faz nem a um cachorro vira-lata na rua…. e digo mais quem nestas imagem diz que tem de ser assim… gostaria eu que fosse com alguém da sua família o que estaria a sentir neste momento?

This island which those so-called gentlemen rule and consider to be their property will never get better than this…. for all the human beings who steal, kill, or sell drugs there are laws and courts, criminal investigation officers or national police…. you don't do that even to a stray dog in the street… and I tell you that anyone who sees these images and says it has to be like that…. would they like it to be someone from their family feeling what he was feeling at that moment?

The alleged images show a young man sitting on the ground, wearing only underwear, as soldiers—apparently high-ranking members of the Armed Forces of São Tomé and Príncipe—beat him mercilessly. Also present are other police officers who move closer and begin to kick and beat the young man, who never displays any kind of resistance.

Patrice Trovoada, current prime minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, reacted on his official Facebook page: 

Tomei ontem conhecimento que está a circular nas redes sociais um vídeo em que, alegadamente, uma alta patente militar de S. Tomé e Príncipe terá utilizado abusivamente da força contra um civil.

Yesterday I became aware of a video circulating online that allegedly shows a high-ranking military officer from S. Tomé and Príncipe using excessive force against a civilian.

Mr. Trovoada took the opportunity to announce that he is making every effort to establish responsibility for these acts:

Tendo o acontecimento ocorrido ainda no mandato do anterior governo, segundo várias versões, solicitei também a abertura de um inquérito para se apurar a origem da gravação, bem como eventuais motivos para só agora ter sido divulgada e o paradeiro da vítima.

Since the incident took place during the previous government's mandate, according to various versions, I have also requested an inquiry to ascertain the origin of the recording, as well as the possible motives for its delayed disclosure and the whereabouts of the victim.

On his Facebook wall, various types of comments can be observed: some Internet users were happy with the Prime Minister's prompt reaction, like Elisabete Rodrigues, who wrote:

Excelente senhor Primeiro Ministro. Sinal de que está atento.

Excellent Mr. Prime Minister. A sign that you are attentive.

Edson Miguel, commenting on the same post, was cynical as to the probability that the announced inquiry would have any real consequences: 

Isso não vai dar em nada……! É mesma coisa dizer o cão ladra e a caravana passa, nós em STP já estamos habituado a isso.

That's not going to come to anything……! It's the same as saying that dogs bark and caravans go past, we in STP are already accustomed to this.

Adney Lucas concluded: 

Sendo assim tendo em conta a veracidade do facto, mais uma vez venho muito humildemente clamar uma aceleração neste inquérito e que o mesmo seja feito com muita celeridade e coerência. Que o Estado de Direito Democrático sege respeitado e que se possa fazer a justiça com responsabilidade. Ninguém está a cima da lei, ha métodos, formas e instâncias próprias para cada caso e situações. Viva a JUSTIÇA e a DEMOCRACIA, a baixo a anarquia.

Taking into account the veracity of the facts, once again I wish to call humbly for a expedition of this inquiry and for it to be carried out with rapidity and coherence. May the democratic rule of law be respected and justice be done responsibly. Nobody is above the law, there are appropriate methods, forms and instances for every case and situation. Long live JUSTICE and DEMOCRACY, down with anarchy.

In an interview with RFI, Célia Possér, President of the Platform for Human Rights and Gender Equality, condemned the apparent act of police brutality.

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