18 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Fresh Bail Bid for MDC-T Cop Murder Accused

EMBATTLED MDC-T politician Last Maengehama and three party activists still languishing in remand prison over a 2011 cop murder charge will this week launch a fresh bid for bail, their lawyers have confirmed.

The four are part of the remaining seven party activists accused of murdering Police Inspector Petros Mutedza at a bottle store in Harare's high density Glen View suburb May 2011.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights' Jeremiah Bamu, part of a team of lawyers representing the group, told NewZimbabwe.com the fresh freedom bid would be lodged with trial judge Chinembiri Bhunu at the High Court.

Bamu said they would file the application basing on the legal principle of changed of circumstances in a case in which the activists have seen several bail requests thrown out.

"We feel that circumstances have changed because of the lapse of time since the case was last in court," said Bamu.

"Some of the accused persons are out on bail. We feel there is no basis to distinguish them from those who are out of custody.

"In any event, they remain entitled to bail. They still enjoy the presumption of innocence until proven guilty."

Trial is seto to continue on February 24 this year.

Formerly referred to as the Glen View 28, the MDC-T group of Maengehama, his brother Lazarus Maengehama, Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa, Paul Rukanda, Edwin Mhingiri and Phineas Nhatarikwa were put to their defence by Justice Bhunu when he acquitted the rest of the group.

Of the remaining seven, Mhingiri, Rukanda and Nhatarikwa are out of custody. The jailed lot have been in custody continuously since they were indicted beginning of March 2012.

The Glen View 28, who include party youth assembly leader Solomon Madzore and the late Rebecca Mafikeni were arrested on different occasions June 2011.

All the activists deny the charges while their party says they are victims of political persecution at the hands of President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Meanwhile, civil society groups under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition have launched a campaign to galvanise moral support around the imprisoned lot as well as demand the speedy conclusion of the drawn out case.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition programmes officer Beloved Chiweshe said the MDC-T politicians were political prisoners who did not deserve what they were currently going through.

"We strongly believe these people did not commit an offence at least as far as we have been following the court case. We believe it is actually political persecution that they are facing," said Chiweshe.

Chiweshe said it was unfortunate the plight of the MDC activists was fading out of the memories of even its most ardent followers and had to be brought back to public domain.

"Our intention is to roll it into a bigger campaign. We must now have it in a more systematic manner," he said.

"We want to not only pitch the issue of these prisoners of conscience at a local level but we want to take it even regional and international. Our demand at least in the immediate is that these guys should be tried and the issue finalised.

"What we are worried about is the time this case has taken to finalise. Three years of your lifetime is very long."

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