Autopsy for ex-Angola leader amid foul play claims; daughter says rivals did not want him to back opposition in key vote

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SPAIN: A Barcelona court has authorised an autopsy on former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santo who died in the city on Friday after his family alleged a conspiracy to kill him.

His daughter, Tchize dos Santos, had requested the autopsy.

Political enemies did not want him to back the opposition in forthcoming Angolan elections, she said.

Dos Santos, 79, was in Spain for medical treatment and died after a cardiac arrest.

He had been in power for 38 years when he stepped down in 2017.

Lawyers for the Dos Santos family have also denounced moves by the Angolan government to return the body there for a state funeral, against the ex-president’s expressed wish to be buried privately in Spain. He is said to have been afraid his death would be politicised because his children would not be able to travel to Angola for his funeral or to visit his grave.

His death has reportedly worsened relations between his family and the Angolan government.

Another of his daughters, Isabel dos Santos, has been charged with mismanagement and embezzling public funds when she headed the state oil firm, Sonangol. She has denied the charges and says she is the target of political persecution.

Isabel dos Santos was said to have become Africa's richest woman and is banned from entering the US over corruption allegations

Isabel dos Santos was said to have become Africa’s richest woman and is banned from entering the US over corruption allegations

President João Lourenço, who was hand-picked by Dos Santos to succeed him and is from the same party, the MPLA, has denied accusations that the government had any link to the former president’s death.

He stated that the Angolan government had a duty to organise a state funeral for the country’s long-time leader. He also said any Angolan citizen who wanted to travel to Angola for Dos Santos’ funeral would be able to do so.

Dos Santos, who was just 37 when he became head of state, will be remembered for ending a long-running civil war in the early 2000s, with his supporters dubbing him the “architect of peace”.

The war lasted for 27 years and ravaged the country. About 500,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict.

But his legacy is marred by corruption and human rights violations during his time in power.