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appeal denied in case against ZimRights official
Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa
January 10, 2013
An appeal launched
against a court decision to deny
bail to a detained human rights activist and three others in
Harare has been denied, leaving the group locked up and facing trial.
programs manager Leo Chamahwinya was arrested
during a police raid on the group's offices in early December
and taken into custody on allegations that he was involved in 'illegal
voter registration'. He was then charged with 'conspiracy
to commit fraud'.
Three other individuals,
who do not work for ZimRights, were also arrested in December and
charged in the same case. They are Dorcas Shereni, Tanaka Chinaka
and Farai Bhani, and they are all being accused of forgery, fraud
and publishing 'false statements'. The state has alleged
that the group forged voter registration certificates "to
tarnish the name of the Registrar General."
Bail against the four
was denied by a local magistrate before the Christmas season, meaning
the group was forced to remain behind bars throughout the festive
Their lawyer, Tarisai
Mutangi, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that an appeal against
this decision was then launched at the High Court, but this appeal
has been denied. He said they are now waiting for further instruction
from the courts, after being told to give the police time to carry
"From day one the
state never had prima face evidence against these people, especially
against Leo. The link between them is so far removed and so far
fetched," Mutangi said.
He added that the lawyers
remain convinced that the case has "many holes in it,"
but until the court makes a decision, they can do nothing but wait.
people involved in voter registration have faced increasing levels
of intimidation by suspected CIO agents. According to Tsepiso Mpofu,
from the Youth
Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe (YIDEZ), several youths
in Matabeleland have reported late night visits by plain clothes
police men and suspected CIO members. Some of the youths and their
families are understood to have fled their homes in fear.
do not seem to understand that voter registration is not illegal.
Anyone can register to vote at any time.
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