The children of slain Angolan rebel chief Jonas Savimbi urged a French court on Wednesday to punish the makers of the wildly popular video game “Call of Duty” for representing their father as a “barbarian”.
Savimbi’s son Cheya, 42, told the court in Nanterre, just outside Paris, that he wanted to “rehabilitate the memory and image” of his father, who led a brutal 27-year war against the government in Luanda.
Call of Duty, the world’s best-selling video game last year, puts the player in the role of a shooter, and often features characters based on historical and political figures.
The Savimbi children contest the violent character of their father in the 2012 “Black Ops II” game.
The court said it would rule on March 24 on whether Activision Blizzard, which makes Call of Duty, had defamed Savimbi.
The offending clip shows Savimbi, known as the “Black Cockerel” by his supporters, rallying his troops from the back of a tank as MPLA government troops advance on them, gunfire rattling all around.
He yells out phrases such as “fight, my brothers” and “we must finish them… death to the MPLA”.
“Seeing him kill people, cutting someone’s arm off … that isn’t Dad,” said Cheya.
Activision’s lawyers invoked freedom of expression for a “game, a work of fiction which uses real historical facts”.
“He was a warlord, there is no possible contestation,” said lawyer Etienne Kowalski.
Savimbi was known to have terrorised civilian populations and became one of the first warlords to fund his army with so-called “blood diamonds”.
He was killed in battle against MPLA government forces in 2002, paving the way for a peace deal that would bring an end to one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest conflicts, which erupted after independence from Portugal in 1975.
The war left at least half a million people dead and forced some four million civilians to flee their homes in the oil-rich nation.
Cuba’s Fidel Castro, slain former US president John F. Kennedy and former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega have all made appearances.
Noriega filed a lawsuit in 2014 in the United States complaining that the game portrayed him in a bad light, but the case was thrown out.