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Dowa 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.

Halimani was 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Dowa was in 2003 withdrawn from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo owing to his past involvement in human rights abuses and torture in Harare.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."

Halimani then 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.

But Magistrate 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) members.

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 against lawyers.

The threat on Halimani is deliberately meant to frighten him from discharging his duties as a human rights lawyer and must be condemned.

Lawyers must 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.

Meanwhile, Muchadehama's 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.

Besides Dowa, 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.

Mtetwa said 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.

Dowa disclosed 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 charge.

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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