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Muchadehama to stand trial again as onslaught against lawyers intensifies
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
December 07, 2009

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has once again summoned prominent human rights lawyer and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) member Alec Muchadehama to stand trial on contempt of court charges barely a month after Harare Magistrate Archie Wochiunga removed him from remand.

Magistrate Wochiunga removed Muchadehama, who is currently representing several human rights activists and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members who were abducted and tortured by State security agents before being charged with treason, banditry, sabotage and plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe's previous government from remand on 17 November 2009 for the second time in five months.

At the time of his removal from remand Magistrate Wochiunga only remanded Constance Gambara, the Clerk of Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, who is jointly charged with the human rights lawyer for allegedly causing the unlawful release from custody of his clients, Kisimusi Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa and Andrison Manyere to 9 December 2009 for possible trial.

But Detective Sergeant Mukucha on Friday 4 December 2009 summoned Muchadehama to stand trial on the same charges.

This is the third time in five months that the State has arraigned Muchadehama before the courts to stand trial initially for defeating or obstructing the course of justice and for contempt of court after the State altered the charge.

In June 2009, Harare Magistrate Catherine Chimanda granted Muchadehama's application for refusal of further remand after determining that the State-then represented by Prosecutor Tapiwa Kasema-had failed to show any reasonable suspicion that he had committed the alleged offence.

The Magistrate also found that the State had failed to show that Muchadehama had an intention to commit the offence.

ZLHR is perturbed by the State's decision to revive a case in which a Magistrate once dismissed the performance of prosecutors as "nonsense and ineptitude of the worst type".

The onslaught on Muchadehama is tantamount to harassment of human rights defenders. Muchadehama has become a target of State persecution because of his work in successfully representing several human rights defenders.

ZLHR calls upon the authorities to stop the harassment of legal practitioners for exercising their professional duties.

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