25 March 2013

Zimbabwe: Beatrice Mtetwa Released

Photo: Nyarai Mudimu/IPS
Prominent Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was arrested for allegedly obstructing the course of justice. She is pictured here existing a police van as she arrived at the Harare Magistrate’s Court on Mar. 20.

Human Rights Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was granted bail Monday by High Court Judge Justice Joseph Musakwa, after spending eight nights in prison.

The Judge ordered her release saying magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa was wrong when she denied Mtetwa bail last Wednesday by claiming she was a flight risk.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights quoted Justice Musakwa as saying: "Mtetwa should not have been denied bail by the lower court and the police should have shed light on the nature and scope of the investigations that remained outstanding and that the court should not have denied liberty to a legal practitioner of repute like Mtetwa."

Mtetwa is accused of obstructing the course of justice by insulting police officers when she went to help her clients from the Prime Minister's office, who were arrested on allegations that they impersonated the police so that they could gather sensitive information about corrupt state officials.

The judge said although he would describe Mtetwa as a forceful if not combative personality, she still remained professional in the execution of her professional duties.

"On State allegations that Mtetwa's purported shouting at the police could have caused or resulted in the disappearance of some computers that the police wanted to recover, Justice Musakwa said being a woman, Mtetwa could and should have been subdued by the police officers," Zimbabwe lawyers for Human Rights said.

She was released on $500 bail and ordered not to interfere with investigations until the matter is settled.

ZLHR communications officer Kumbirai Mafunda told SW Radio Africa that Mtetwa believes her arrest was aimed to instill fear among human rights lawyers.

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