BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spanish prosecutors said Thursday they have decided to look into allegations by a daughter of a former president of Angola that a conspiracy has caused José Eduardo dos Santos to be in a coma in a Barcelona clinic.
Catalan police have also confirmed they are examining the accusations by the daughter, Tchizé dos Santos. She has also requested police protection at the clinic for the former head of state, according to police.
Dos Santos voluntarily stepped down as head of state of the southern African country in 2017, when his health began failing after almost 40 years in power.
Under his rule, oil- and diamond-rich Angola gained a reputation as one of the world’s poorest and most corrupt countries. He skillfully played off competing Angolan political and military factions to stay in power, ensuring they also benefited financially from Angola’s wealth.
Dos Santos’s successor, President João Lourenço, launched a drive to root out corruption among Angola’s elite and immediately targeted some of dos Santos’s children. Tchizé has said she left Angola because of death threats.
Lourenço recently described dos Santos as a friend. Earlier this month he sent Angola’s foreign minister to Barcelona to check on dos Santos’s health. The Angolan government says it is paying dos Santos’s medical bill.
The allegations come amid a tense political time in Angola, as it prepares for elections on Aug. 24.
Questioned by The Associated Press, Spanish prosecutors refused to say whether they are merely considering the merits of the accusations as part of a preliminary probe or whether it is a full-blown investigation.
Neither the prosecutors nor the police who commented can be identified by name, in accordance with departmental rules.
Tchizé dos Santos alleges that people close to the ex-president have tried to kill him, failed to care for him properly and acted negligently.
Specifically, she accuses his Angolan doctor Joao Afonso and Dos Santos’s second wife Ana Paula, from whom he separated in 2017, for the rapid decline of his health, according to her Spanish legal team.
Dos Santos has visited Barcelona, where he owns a house, for many years for medical treatment. Angolan authorities have never said what ailed him.
Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal contributed.