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court scraps controversial Mugabe insult law
Chris Chinakira, Reuters
October 31, 2013
Zimbabwe's highest court
has scrapped a law against insulting the president that has been
used to arrest opponents and critics of veteran leader Robert Mugabe,
a court official said on Thursday.
In the last decade dozens
of dissidents have been arrested on charges of insulting the 89-year-old
ruler. Some, including a leading opposition figure who called Mugabe
a "tired donkey" ahead of elections this year, have been
detained for weeks.
However, the Constitutional
Court ruled on Wednesday that the offence of undermining the authority
of the President and "communicating falsehoods" ran counter
to the freedom of expression enshrined in a constitution introduced
in March, a court official told Reuters.
Court's ruling is that these provisions are not in line with basic
rights of freedom of expression," said the official, who asked
not to be named because the ruling has not yet been made public.
The Minister of Justice
has until November 20 to appeal the ruling, the official added.
There was no immediate
comment from the Justice Department.
Mugabe has been in power
since the former Rhodesia's independence from Britain in 1980, although
he has been accused of stealing elections through intimidation,
violence and vote-rigging.
He has never commented
directly on the "insult law", which was enacted when he
became executive president in 1987.
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