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Call of Duty developer Activision is being sued by the family of deceased Angolan rebel Jonas Savimbi for allegedly inaccurately depicting his character in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The family's lawyer said the game shows Savimbi as a "barbarian".
The France-based family is seeking €1m (£765,688, $1.1m) in damages from the French branch of the video game publisher, Activision Blizzard. Lawyers for both the defendant and plaintiff regard the case as a first of its kind, involving defamation over a video character.
Carole Enfert, the Savimbi family's lawyer, said Savimbi was portrayed as a "big halfwit who wants to kill everybody", when in reality, according to the family, he was a "political leader and strategist", the Guardian reported.
Savimbi was the leader and founder of the National Union of Total Independence of Angola (Unita). His freedom-fighting organisation was involved in a civil war with the government of Luanda lasting 27 years. He died in 2002 in a battle against the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government forces. The movement eventually led to a peace treaty.
Savimbi was recreated in 2012 when Call of Duty developers added his character in the highly popular Black Ops II version. He was dubbed "Black Cockerel" and shown, amid much carnage, rallying his comrades to carry out further violence and mayhem.
The game developer maintained that it had not misrepresented Savimbi in any way. Activision's lawyer Etienne Kowalski said Savimbi has been depicted "for who he was... a character of Angolan history, a guerrilla chief who fought the MPLA". She also defended Savimbi's characterisation, claiming the game portrays him in positive light. She said he has been shown as a "good guy who comes to help the heroes".
France is known to zealously protect an individual's personal rights of publicity and defamation.