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Treason charges against Munyaradzi Gwisai & others - Index of articles
fights for freedom
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
May 30, 2011
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rights activist, Munyaradzi Gwisai and five colleagues facing
treason charges have petitioned the High Court to relax their
stringent bail conditions.
the other economic justice and human rights activists are on tight
bail conditions while awaiting trial on allegations of plotting
to unseat the government through popular revolts similar to those
witnessed in Egypt and Tunisia.
They argue that
bail conditions should be relaxed because they have demonstrated
not to be a flight risk.
Gwisai, a labour
law lecturer at the University
of Zimbabwe, is the International
Socialist Organisation general-coordinator for the local chapter.
In an application
filed in the High Court last week, prominent human rights lawyer
Alec Muchadehama argued that his clients had religiously abided
by their bail conditions since their release on bail in March.
has advised that it would be reducing the charges to lesser ones.
The feared temptation of applicants to abscond from the initial
charges has been greatly reduced if not totally eliminated, not
that it ever existed," reads part of the activists'
application filed by Muchadehama.
Judge Justice Joseph Musakwa briefly heard the application on Friday
before deferring the matter to Monday to allow Edmore Nyazamba of
the Attorney General's Office to file his response to the
$2000 bail money, the activists have been reporting three times
a week to Harare Central Police Station.
submit that the conditions have become burdensome and they need
to carry on with their normal lives," said Muchadehama, a
member of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights. "All applicants have suffered
immense restrictions in their daily lives." Gwisai and 44
activists were arrested in February after police pounced on them
as they watched television footage of popular uprisings that ousted
long-serving dictators in Egypt and Tunisia.
of the activists, including HIV and AIDS campaigners, were freed
by Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi who ruled that prosecutors
had failed to prove a case against them.
This left Gwisai,
anti-debt campaigner Hopewell Gumbo, student leader Welcome Zimuto,
Antonater Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Eddson Chakuma facing treason
charges. Recently, Nyazamba indicated that the six activists, who
spent almost a month in prison before the High Court granted them
bail, will now be tried at the Harare Regional Court starting on
In his application,
Muchadehama gave the example of Welcome Zimuto, who is a student
at the Chinhoyi University of Technology, as one of the applicants
who was being affected by the bail conditions.
unfair to have a university student report three times a week at
the expense of his right to education," said Muchadehama.
The lawyer added that given the lapse of time since they were released
in March, his clients' bail conditions needed to be revised.
"Applicants have demonstrated beyond doubt that they can be
trusted," he said. "It is submitted that time has progressed
sufficiently enough and the State case has been severely weakened
to warrant a reconsideration of the bail condition."
The arrest of
the activists in February drew wide international condemnation of
President Robert Mugabe's government. The denunciation worsened
after the activists claimed that they had been tortured while in
police cells. The activists have denied the treason charges and
say they were arrested while attending a democracy and constitutionalism
lecture at the ISO offices in Harare.
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