1969: Equatorial Guinea’s Christmas Eve executions

3 comments December 24th, 2017 Headsman

A story from the 1970s Equatorial Guinea dictatorship of eventual Executed Today client Francisco Macias Nguema, via Suzanne Cronjé’s out-of-print 1976 volume Equatorial Guinea, the forgotten dictatorship: forced labour and political murder in central Africa.

a first batch of murderers were unskilfully hanged at Bata on the mainland early in December while another group met their end in Fernando Po [the island also known as Bioko, home to Equatorial Guinea’s capital city Malabo -ed.] on Christmas Eve. After a kind of public trial before most of the Cabinet in which assembled population was asked to endorse the verdict, they were shot or hanged to the strains of Mary Hopkin singing ‘Those were the days’ over the loudspeaker system.

The Headsman must admit to being flummoxed at the slipperiness of dependable primary sourcing for this extraordinarily picturesque event: as Cronje’s source notes, “the government probably only gets away with them because so little ever gets out about its doings.”

Many sites around this Internet situate the event on Christmas Eve of 1975. This appears to me unambiguously mistaken; Cronje’s narrative quotes its information from a February 1970 Financial Times report, and the Mary Hopkin detail also better fits the earlier date. (Her song was a hit in 1968.) However, it’s possible that distinct seasonal events were conflated between the years, for the 1970s were years of terrifying purges in Equatorial Guinea that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Christmas Eve 1969 is also the date reported by Randall Fegley in Equatorial Guinea: An African Tragedy (1989) although in Fegley’s telling the nostalgic soundtrack accompanied that ugly early December execution, not the one on Christmas eve. Wikipedia’s entry for Macias Nguema asserts as of this writing that the shootings were carried out by executioners dressed as Santa Claus; the only hint of textual authority I have located for this outlandish detail points to a 1981 Human Rights Quarterly article by Fegley which I cannot access. (Update: In fact, Fegley’s article makes no claim about Saint Nick getup. Thanks to cz for the comment.)

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Equatorial Guinea,Execution,Hanged,History,Mass Executions,Public Executions,Shot

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2010: Four in Equatorial Guinea

1 comment August 21st, 2011 Meaghan

(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)

On this date last year, four Equatorial Guinean men were executed immediately after they were convicted of treason in a military court in the tiny African nation’s capital of Malabo.

The defendants, all former military officers, reportedly confessed to attacking the presidential palace in February 2009, supposedly in an attempt to assassinate the president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Fortunately for him, he wasn’t in residence that day.

The attack had originally been blamed on Nigerian militants; in the aftermath, seven Nigerian men were sentenced to prison for their alleged involvement, and dozens of Nigerian expatriates were expelled from the country.

International observers castigated the trials and executions as not meeting international standards of fairness. This is no surprise, seeing as how Equatorial Guinea has one of the worst human rights records in the world.

According to Amnesty International, the four men weren’t even in the country at the time of the attack, having been exiled to Benin some years before. President Obiang’s agents abducted them from Benin in January 2010. Because of the “chilling speed” of the executions, none of the condemned had the opportunity to appeal the verdict and sentences or seek clemency, as Equatorial Guinea’s own law is supposed to provide.

José Abeso Nsue, Manuel Ndong Anseme, Alipio Ndong Asumu and Jacinto Michá Obiang (no apparent relation to his alleged target) were the only Equatorial Guineans known to have faced the death penalty that year.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Assassins,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Equatorial Guinea,Execution,Guest Writers,History,Notable for their Victims,Other Voices,Power,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot,Soldiers,Treason,Wrongful Executions

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1979: Francisco Macías Nguema, President for Life

1 comment September 29th, 2008 Headsman

In the early afternoon this date, Equatorial Guinea’s former President for Life was sentenced to death with six aides at the end of a four-day trial for murder, treason, embezzlement, and genocide.

That evening, the seven were shot at Malabo’s Blabich Prison.

Nguema Biyoto Masie, nee Francisco Macías Nguema, rose from the Spanish colonial bureaucracy to win the first post-independence presidency of the minuscule African state.

He quickly created a one-party state and increasingly nutty cult of personality, answering to such horror-comic nicknames as “Unique Miracle”.

Nguema’s Unique Miracle for Equatorial Guinea was a Pol Pot-style catastrophe, killing or driving out most of the population (including Nguema’s own wife), eviscerating the economy, and getting into military brinksmanship with neighboring Nigeria.*

His nephew, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, overthrew him a few weeks before this date. Despite the speedy resolution of the case, international observers on the scene considered it a fair enough trial and the dictator’s guilt duly established; procedurally, the execution happened immediately because he was tried by the highest court in the land and there was nowhere to appeal.


Francisco Macias Nguema during his trial.

Still, the shooting itself was handled by hired Moroccan troops, rather than citizens of Equatorial Guinea: Nguema had convinced quite a lot of people that he had magic powers, and the locals weren’t eager to be the ones to test the proposition.

Bloody but necessary first step to parliamentary democracy?

Not quite. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, one of the worst dictators you’ve never heard of, still runs Equatorial Guinea in much the manner of his predecessor to this day.


Did we mention that Equatorial Guinea has oil?

* Francisco Macias Nguema’s daughter, “Empress Bella Syttam Macias”, lives in Utah and defends her dad. She seems to have been too young to have been personally involved in anything unsavory in the 70’s.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Crimes Against Humanity,Death Penalty,Equatorial Guinea,Execution,Heads of State,History,Infamous,Mass Executions,Murder,Notable Jurisprudence,Politicians,Shot,The Worm Turns,Theft,Treason

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