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Developments relating to detained opposition members
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
June 12, 2007

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) confirms the following developments in relation to members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change who have been in custody for over two months:

On 7 June 2007 PINIEL DENGA was granted bail. He was ordered to deposit an amount of Z$50 million, surrender his travel documents to the court and report to the authorities at the Law and Order section of Harare Central police station three times a week. He was also ordered not to interfere with any witnesses.

Also on 7 June 2007 Magistrate Gloria Takundwa upheld two applications for refusal of further remand for the following: ZEBEDIAH JUABA, KUDAKWASHE MATIBIRI, HON. PAUL MADZORE MP, BRIGHTON MATIMBA, BETTER CHOKURURAMA, LUKE TAMBORINYOKA and STANLEY MUTSENDI (in the matter of State v Zebediah and 6 Ors), as well as TONDERAI NDIRA, BARNABUS NDIRA, ENOCK MUKUDU, FRIDAY MULEYA, NYASHA CHIKOMBE and BORNWELL CHIVIZHE (in the matter State v Tonderai Ndira and 5 Ors). She agreed with lawyers for the accused persons that the State had failed to provide concrete evidence to sustain the charges and therefore the detainees should be released. However, Tonderai Ndira, Friday Muleya, Kudakwashe Matibiri, Better Chokururama, Hon Paul Madzore MP and Stanley Mutsendi were not released, as they are co-accused in other related matters which remain pending before the courts at this time.

On 8 June 2007 bail applications pending before the High Court were postponed in order to await a ruling in the Magistrates' Court on applications for refusal of further remand, similar to those lodged on behalf of detainees named in the cases outlined above. These applications will be considered in the Magistrates' Court on Monday 11 June 2007 on behalf of

At 14:30hrs on 8 June 2007, the Magistrates' Court considered an application for referral to the Supreme Court of the case of PHILIP KATSANDE. The court had directed that he be summoned to give evidence which would enable the court to make an informed decision on whether the beatings, torture and harassment he suffered at the time of his arrest violated his constitutional rights with the result of quashing proceedings brought against him. Judgment has been reserved to Friday 15 June 2007.

On 11 June 2007 in the matter of State v Amos Musekiwa & 6 Ors, AMOS MUSEKIWA was granted bail on the sum of Z$1 million, ordered to reside at his given address and report to Law and Order three times a week and not interfere with witnesses. His co-accused, namely HETADGE MUTASA, CHIMUDARA AMISI, MOSES MUTASA, PETER BOKOSI, EDMORE MANYOFA and FUNGAI KATURUZA, were successful in their application for refusal of further remand and have since been released.

Also on 11 June 2007 High Court judge, Justice Anne Marie Gowora, granted bail in an application made by ISHMAEL KAUZENI. In her judgment she found the Ministerial certificate which had been issued in attempts to keep the accused in custody was of no force and effect and therefore would not be considered during the bail application. However, Mr. Kauzeni was not released as he remains a co-accused in a further criminal matter still pending before the courts.

On 12 June 2007, applications for refusal of further remand will be considered in the cases of SHAME WAKATAMA and 6 Ors, MORGAN KOMICHI and Anor (DENNIS MURIRA), PHILIP MABIKA and 12 Ors, RAYMOND BHAKE, VASCO MAFOTI AND IAN MAKONE. ZLHR considers these developments to be of significant consequence, especially the Magistrate's refusal to further remand nineteen (19) of the accused persons.

The detainees, including those who remain in custody, have been held for over 2 months, with the police evidencing confusion at every court appearance and drawing out the process unnecessarily. The arrogant conduct of the police, which has included serious allegations of torture of suspects in custody, arrest and detention for the purposes of investigation, state witnesses who cannot be located or who have failed to avail themselves in court, and long delays in bringing suspects to trial is, in our view, a contravention of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and international human rights instruments to which Zimbabwe is a State Party.

It is further indicative of a sick system which is in urgent need of reform, transparency and accountability to the victims of such severe human rights violations. Also of significance is the striking out of the ministerial certificate by Justice Gowora, which is indicative of a firm and fair line taken by the judiciary against arbitrary use of executive powers to diminish the powers and independence of the judiciary.

It has not escaped the attention of all fair-minded observers that the state has sought to target the main structures of the opposition relating to election preparation and campaign, as well as information dissemination. With the collapse of the state's cases in these two matters, there is a reasonable suspicion that this has been done purely to hamper the opposition in their preparations for the forthcoming elections and to prevent the people of Zimbabwe from making a free choice as is their constitutional right.

ZLHR further notes that the state-controlled media has chosen, since the time of the arrest of these individuals, to fuel public hatred against them by convicting them in the public media before they had a chance to answer the charges against them, in contravention of protective constitutional provisions relating to the presumption of innocence.

We commend the actions of the judicial officers in these matters and urge them to remain resolute and discharge their constitutional mandate in a free, fair and independent matter to ensure that victims of state repression retain their constitutional rights and are able to obtain redress for the violations committed against them.

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