Luanda Trial

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The Luanda Trial was a trial held in Luanda, Angola in June and July 1976 by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), to prosecute thirteen foreign mercenaries who had served its defeated rival, the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA).[1]


The following sentences were passed on June 28, 1976:

16 years' imprisonment:

24 years' imprisonment:

  • John Lawlor (UK)
  • Colin Evans (UK)
  • Cecil Martin "Satch" Fortuin (South Africa/UK)

30 years' imprisonment:

  • Michael Douglas Wiseman (UK)
  • Kevin John Marchant (UK)
  • Gustavo Marcelo Grillo, 27 (Argentina/USA)

Execution by firing squad:

  • Costas Georgiou (aka "Colonel Tony Callan"), 25 (Cyprus/UK)
  • Andrew Gordon McKenzie, 25 (UK)
  • Derek John Barker, 35 (UK)
  • Daniel Francis Gearhart, 34 (USA)

Some of the verdicts had been expected, especially regarding Georgiou. However, others were considered excessive, particularly over Gearhart, who had arrived in Angola only days before his arrest and never taken part in any activities against the MPLA government. British Prime Minister James Callaghan sent a cable to Angolan President Agostinho Neto requesting mercy for the men.

Nevertheless, the four condemned men were executed by MPLA military police on July 10, 1976. McKenzie, who had been seriously wounded in the leg and used a wheelchair, stood up to face the firing squad.[citation needed]

The two remaining Americans, Grillo and Acker, were released in 1982 in a prisoner exchange worked out by the United States Department of State. The British prisoners were released in 1984 after negotiation by the British Foreign Office.



  1. ^ "1976: Death sentence for mercenaries" (HTML). BBC News. 1976-06-28. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 


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