21 March 2013

Zimbabwe: Mtetwa's Lawyers Lodge High Court Appeal

Lawyers for incarcerated human rights defender Beatrice Mtetwa, have launched a fresh bid to have her released by lodging an application at the High Court on Thursday.

The application will be heard by Justice Joseph Musakwa on Friday morning, after Mtetwa's lawyers filed an appeal asking the higher court to set aside the dismissal of an earlier bail application by Harare Provincial Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa.

On Wednesday, Gofa dismissed Mtetwa's bail application on the basis that if granted bail she would interfere with police investigations.

According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Mtetwa's legal team argued that Magistrate Gofa was wrong to refuse the human rights lawyer bail and that her ruling must be set aside on appeal.

Mtetwa was arrested while attending to her clients - Thabani Mpofu, Felix Matsinde, Mehluli Tshuma and councillor Warship Dumba, who are being charged with contravening a section of the Official Secrets Act for allegedly receiving or communicating secret information; and sections of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act for alleged impersonation and for possession of articles for criminal use.

They are being accused of running an NGO and impersonating police officers in order to compile corruption and criminal dossiers against government officials, such as Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

Meanwhile, Zimbabweans across the world have launched a series of petitions calling on Zimbabwean authorities to release Mtetwa. These include the "Free Beatrice Mtetwa Now" started by Kibho here.

Another US-based petitioner, Lorie Conway, is calling on President Robert Mugabe to release the fearless Mtetwa. See here

In Zimbabwe, Sokwanele is urging people to call Rhodesville Police Station (where Mtetwa is being held) on these numbers: +263 (4) 495753; +263 (4) 481111.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director McDonald Lewanika said it was important for Zimbabweans to rally together and do everything possible, through campaigns, petitions and other initiatives to get Mtetwa released.

"What is at stake here is everyone's liberties, not just those of Beatrice Mtetwa," Lewanika said.

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