Togo sues African Cup organizers over attack
Togo has filed a complaint in a French court against a separatist movement and African Cup of Nations organizers after the deadly Jan. 8 attack on the team in Angola, judicial officials said Thursday.
The action targets the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda, whose leader, Rodrigues Mingas, lives in France, and the Confederation of African Football.
The prosecutor's office will study the complaint against acts of terrorism and murder to decide whether it should be pursued. It was filed Jan. 29, the officials said. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Joined in the complaint as civil parties were the families of two people killed in the attack, Togo assistant coach Amelete Abalo, and press officer Dodji Komi Ocloo Azanledji, a judicial official said.
The Angolan bus driver taking the team to its Cup base in Cabinda also was killed in the attack on Jan. 8 in the northern Angolan region, where separatists have long sought autonomy. Togo's team was withdrawn from the competition by its government.
Mingas has claimed responsibility for the attack in phone calls with numerous French media. He was quoted as saying that all blows are permitted in war: "In war, anything can happen, it's just starting."
Mingas said in a new interview on Thursday with France 24 TV channel that the Togo team bus was not the target of the attack.
"This was not a premeditated hit against the bus of our brothers of Togo," Mingas said, adding that the sector where the attack occurred was "where our troops operate against the occupying Angolan forces."
He also said that Togo was right to file a suit but that it should have targeted Angola as well as competition organizers — not his movement.
"We understand our brothers of Togo, but they must understand that Cabinda is under occupation," Mingas said.
The CAF, African soccer's governing body, could not be reached late Thursday. The CAF banned Togo from the next two editions of the African Cup for its withdrawal, citing political interference.
In addition to the suit, the Paris prosecutor's office opened a terrorism inquiry on Jan. 15 into the separatists' role in the killings.
Angola had protested to the French authorities about the failure to take legal measures against Mingas, who the Foreign Ministry said was a French citizen, and restrict his movements. The inquiry will examine whether the prosecutor can file formal charges against Mingas for inciting "acts of terrorism."