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at it again, threatens human rights lawyer
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
December 08, 2009
Notorious police officer
Detective Inspector Henry Sostein Dowa on Tuesday 8 December 2009
threatened human rights lawyer and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
(ZLHR) member Denford Halimani with unspecified action during the
trial of prominent human rights lawyer and ZLHR member Alec Muchadehama
for contempt of court.
Dowa, who was being cross
examined by Halimani, the lawyer of Constance Gambara, the Clerk
of High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, who is jointly charged
with Muchadehama for allegedly causing the unlawful release from
custody of freelance photo-journalist Andrison Manyere and two Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) officials Kisimusi Dhlamini and Gandhi
Mudzingwa threatened to deal with Halimani at the end of court proceedings.
Halimani had asked Dowa about his recall from a UN peacekeeping
mission in Kosovo in 2003 on allegations that he had been implicated
in the harassment and torture of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.
attributing to torture threats that Gambara had been subjected to
by Dowa during interrogation to force the High Court Clerk to admit
to conniving with Muchadehama in the release of the three.
Dowa was in 2003 withdrawn
from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo owing to
his past involvement in human rights abuses and torture in Harare.
But Dowa threatened
Halimani for questioning him about his alleged involvement in torturing
human rights defenders saying; "I would like him (Halimani)
to talk to me about it (torture allegations) later."
protested to Bulawayo Regional Magistrate Fadzai Mthombeni that
he was no longer feeling safe to proceed with cross examination
in the light of the threat by Dowa.
Mthombeni told Halimani to be comfortable and proceed with his professional
duties as he was protected by the court.
The threat on
Halimani follows that on another human rights lawyer and ZLHR member
Charles Kwaramba who was threatened by Dowa on Friday 31 July 2009
for allegedly criticizing him for his role in the persecution of
human rights activists and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
ZLHR is concerned
by the threat on Halimani, who as a legal practitioner was executing
his professional duties.
ZLHR is greatly
worried about the rising pattern of threats, harassment and attacks
The threat on
Halimani is deliberately meant to frighten him from discharging
his duties as a human rights lawyer and must be condemned.
be protected when carrying out their professional duties, and the
police have an obligation to allow them to do so unhindered and
not to use unlawful actions such as threats to impede them.
lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who is also a member of ZLHR applied for
discharge at the close of the State's case after all of the State's
witnesses gave evidence in court.
the other State's witnesses include Chris Mutangadura, a law officer
in the Attorney General (AG)'s office, Caroline Mafuka, Stella Chapwanya
and Debra Jakobo who all work at the High Court.
there is no evidence that the accused persons committed any offence.
She stated that
both Muchadehama and Gambara were never investigated for contempt
of court by Dowa, who is the investigating officer in the matter
and who told the court that he only investigated and interviewed
them on a charge of defeating or obstruction of justice and criminal
abuse of duty as a public officer respectively, the initial charges
which the duo faced upon arrest.
that the charges were only altered to contempt of court at the AG's
Office and he did not investigate or interview the two on the fresh
When court adjourned
Mtetwa was still making her application and she will continue with
the application at 09:00 hrs on Wednesday 9 December 2009.
The State, which
is represented by Austin Muzivi, Sharon Hofisi and Douglas She is
expected to respond to Mtetwa's application before Magistrate Mthombeni
gives her ruling on the application for discharge.
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