SW Radio Africa (London)

15 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Zimrights Director Appears in Court

Photo: MDC
File Photo:Zimbabwean Police

ZimRights director Okay Machisa appeared in court on Tuesday, facing charges of conspiracy to commit fraud.

State prosecutor Michael Reza asked the court to remand the human rights boss in custody, saying he needed more time to change his case file and lay out formal charges against Machisa as an individual.

But reports say the ZimRights's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, urged the court to release her client saying there was no evidence or reason of suspicion against Machisa as an individual.

The court hearing was still underway at the time of broadcast.

Machisa was arrested on Monday on allegations of involvement in 'illegal voter registration. He is accused of publishing false statements with the intention of inciting public disorder and violence.

Four other people, including Machisa's deputy Leo Chamahwinya, are in police custody facing similar charges. The four, who were arrested last month, were denied bail by a High Court judge on the grounds that their crime is so serious that they may run away if released.

The state has alleged that the group forged voter registration certificates "to tarnish the name of the Registrar General."

Meanwhile, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said in a statement that the move by the police is the, "latest attack on non-governmental organizations by the coalition government, which in recent months has been harassing human rights defenders and NGOs ahead of a constitutional referendum and planned general elections."

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