ON THIS DAY    28 June      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1976: Death sentence for mercenaries

Three Britons and an American have been sentenced to death by firing squad for their mercenary roles during the Angolan civil war.

A further nine men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 16 to 30 years at the People's Revolutionary Tribunal in Luanda.

Ernesto Teixeira da Silva, one of five judges presiding over the case, said: "Africa feels mercenaries are a danger to the people, the children and to the security of the state. They spread fear, shame and hatred in Angola."

Costas Georgiou and Andrew McKenzie, who both served in the British army, were given the death sentence for participating in the killing of two Angolan citizens and fellow mercenaries.

American Daniel Gearhart was sentenced to death for advertising himself as a mercenary in an American newspaper.


"I don't feel sorry for them"

Recruiter John Banks

John Derek Barker's role as a leader of mercenaries in Northern Angola led the judges to send him to face the firing squad.

The sentences have now been referred to the Angolan President Agostinho Neto. He must approve the sentences before any actions can be carried out.

British Prime Minister James Callaghan has reportedly asked the Angolan President to show clemency towards the men sentenced to death.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the defendants are appealing against the decision saying: "In our view there is no crime of mercenary nor was there disclosed such crime in Angolan law."

In Britain the man who recruited the British mercenaries, John Banks, said: "I don't feel sorry for them. They are soldiers, they knew what they were doing. I would do it again."

The 13 men were hired to fight in the civil war that broke out when Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

In Context
The four mercenaries sentenced to death by firing squad were shot on 10 July 1976.

Costas Georgiou was the only mercenary to admit to being involved in "an organised group on the fringe of the law".

The men had been hired to fight against the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the civil war that broke out after Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

In April 2002 the Angolan army and Unita signed a formal ceasefire in Luanda to end the 27-year conflict.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |