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The Luanda Trial was a trial held in Luandamarker, Angolamarker in June and July 1976 by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), recently victorious in the Angolan War of Independence, to trial thirteen foreign mercenaries who had served its defeated rival, the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA).

Sentencing

Guilty verdicts for all or some of 130 separate charges, released on June 28, 1976, resulted in the following sentences:

16 years' imprisonment for:

24 years' imprisonment for:
  • Lawlor (UK)
  • Evans (UK)
  • "Satch" Fortuin (UK)


30 years' imprisonment for:
  • Wiseman (UK)
  • Marchant (UK)
  • Gustavo Grillo, 27 (USA)


Execution by firing squad for:
  • Costas Georgiou, 25 (UK)
  • Andy MacKenzie, 25 (UK)
  • John Decker Barker, 35 (UK)
  • Daniel 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. MacKenzie, who had been seriously wounded in the leg and was confined to a wheelchair, stood up to face the firing squad. The two remaining Americans, Grillo and Acker, were released in 1982 in a prisoner exchange worked out by the United States Department of Statemarker. The British prisoners were released in 1984 after eight years of negotiation by the British Foreign Office.

The prisoners had a chance to leave prison during a 1977 coup attempt, when their guards offered to free them if they would become their leaders in the rebellion. All ten men chose to remain in their cells. The coup was eventually put down.

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