Angolan activist rapper to stand trial next month

Angolan activist Luaty Beirao is said to be in a critical condition after an ongoing month-long hunger strike (AFP Photo/Stephane de Sakutin) (AFP/File)

Luanda (AFP) - Angolan rapper Luaty Beirao, who has been on hunger strike for a month, will stand trial next month along with 14 other activists on charges of "rebellion and a coup attempt", Amnesty International said Tuesday.

Beirao is reported to be in a critical condition in a private hospital in Luanda, where he was transferred last week, with his family saying he has only taken water mixed with salt and sugar.

The group of 15 was arrested in June 20 at a youth movement gathering to demand the departure of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979.

They were calling for better living conditions in Africa's second-biggest oil producer, where half the population lives on less than $2 (1.8 euros) a day.

"Their lawyers were notified that the activists' trial would take place between 16 and 20 November 2015 at the Luanda Provincial Tribunal," Amnesty said.

According to his lawyer, Beirao, 33, has lost 15 kilogrammes (33 pounds) since beginning of his hunger strike.

"We believe his health is now in critical condition and his life may be at risk," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty director for southern Africa.

"His original detention was an affront to freedom of expression and now the authorities seem intent on compounding this shocking injustice by keeping him in detention."

Beirao, a key opposition figure in the former Portuguese colony, began refusing food on September 21 after his preventive custody extended beyond the 90 days permitted by law.

If convicted, the activists face up to 12 years in jail.