24 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Machisa's Bail Application Postponed Again

High Court Judge Justice Felistas Chatukuta on Thursday again postponed the bail hearing for detained ZimRights director Okay Machisa.

The ZimRights head, who was arrested last Monday, is accused of attempting to "defraud the Registrar General's Office by forging and manufacturing counterfeit copies of certificates of voter registration."

His deputy Leo Chamahwinya has been in police custody since December last year on the same charges.

Machisa's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa filed the bail application in the High Court following a refusal by Magistrate Tendai Mahwe last week to grant him bail. The magistrate ruled that the ZimRights boss was "facing a serious offence of national interest", and should remain in custody to allow for some "complex investigations" without interference.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights wrote in a statement that the High Court judge said he needed extra time, together with the law officer from the Attorney General's Office, to go through the transcript of the Magistrates Court where Machisa was denied bail. The case was postponed to Friday.

ZimRights was formally charged as an organization on Wednesday. But the human rights body has disassociated itself from any alleged criminal activities and told SW Radio Africa that it was unaware of any voter registration exercise being conducted by its employees, as reported by the police.

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