- Amnesty International (AI) has expressed worry over the deteriorating human rights situation, including reported claims of detention without trial or charged, torture and killing of political opponents in Equatorial Guinea government, ahead of the parliamentary and local elections scheduled for 4 May 2008.
AI is gravely concerned about the death in police custody of Saturnino Ncogo Mbomio, a member of the banned Progress Party of Equatorial Guinea [Partido del Progreso de Guinea Ecuatorial - PPGE] during the nights of 12 and 13 March 2008.
There has been no autopsy on Mbomio's body, let alone investigation into his death by the state.
Mbomio's arrest followed an alleged discovery on 4 March 2008 of three weapons, including a machine gun, an old musket and ammunition, in the boot of a second-hand car being exported to Equatorial Guinea from the port of Sagunto in eastern Spain. The goverment said these weapons were shipped by the exiled leader of PPGE [Severo Moto] to help stage a coup in the country. Moto was on Monday arrested by Spanish police in Toledo on charges of arms trafficking.
Seven other suspected members of the PPGE were also arrested alongside Mbomio in the capital Malabo between 12 and 14 March.
Accused of "hiding things in the house", Mbomio was initially taken to Malabo Central Police Station where he was interrogated for several hours and reportedly tortured. Unable to stand properly, Mbomio was taken back to the house in the afternoon. Police reportedly found weapons buried [three assault rifles, a sniper rifle, a gund with silencer and some ammunition] under the floor.
He was escorted back to the police station and asked to name those involved in the alleged plot, but he reportedly denied knowledge of any plot. Later that night he was transferred to Black Beach prison where he died in his cell during the night.
Equatorial Guinea authorities blamed his death on suicide, saying he had thrown himself from the top of a bunk-bed, facturing his skull.
But they failed to immediately inform his family of the death. His body was removed from the prison and taken to the morgue chamber without electricity. Two days later, the Prime Minister called Mbomio's family only to inform them of his death by suicide and showed them CCTV footage of Saturnino Ngogo in his cell before he had died, but not of the moment of his death.
The Prime Minister asked the relatives to collect the decomposing body from the morgue for burial without delay. Due to the advanced state of decomposition of the body, relatives were only able to see a fractured skull.
Amnesty International calls for an immediate, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the death of Saturnino Ncogo, in accordance with international human rights standards. It also called for the release of all those detained without being charged or tried.
The rights body wondered why the Equatorial Guinea government still condones torture, after all, the practice was banned in the country on 2 November 2006.
"In 2007, Amnesty International knows of at least three cases of alleged torture that resulted in death," AI said, urging an immediate end of acts of torture and other ill-treatment.
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