Savimbi's children won't give up fight against depiction in Call of Duty

The legal battle over the depiction of Angolan rebel chief Jonas Savimbi in the Call of Duty video game is set to continue, according to the lawyer representing Savimbi’s children. A French court on Thursday had thrown out the case, saying the lawsuit had procedural problems and the court did not have jurisdiction.

Savimbi died during fighting in Angola's eastern Moxico province aged 67.
Savimbi died during fighting in Angola's eastern Moxico province aged 67. AFP/Issouf Sanogo

“We’ve decided to take the case to another court, transferring it to the prosecutor of the Republic,” Carole Enfert, lawyer for Savimbi’s children, told RFI after the hearing. “At the same time, we’ll be looking at filing a case in the US.”

Savimbi’s children had filed a defamation case against Activision Blizzard over the portrayal of their father in the Call of Duty Black Ops II game released in 2012.

In the game, Savimbi is seen leading his UNITA rebel group for a counter attack against MPLA government forces, “they are weak, we must finish them,” his character says. “Our journey to victory has begun, death to the MPLA.”

Savimbi's character in Call of Duty Black Ops II
Savimbi's character in Call of Duty Black Ops II Activision Blizzard

The rebel chief’s children had previously told the court in Nanterre that they wanted to “rehabilitate the memory and image” of their father, according to quotes cited by AFP news agency.

“The children are really disappointed by the verdict, because the court hasn’t denied the legitimacy of the case,” said Enfert, in a telephone interview after the hearing.

US video games publisher Activision Blizzard had argued for freedom of expression. “He was a warlord, there is no possible contestation,” said lawyer Etienne Kowalski, as cited by AFP.

“The issue was a procedural problem, even though this is a civil case. And even though we’re not talking about laws governing the press, which are there to protect journalists,” said Enfert.

Savimbi was killed in battle against MPLA government forces in 2002. During Angola’s long civil war, Savimbi’s UNITA was accused of killing, abducting and terrorising civilians with impunity, according to Human Rights Watch.

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