3 February 2014

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Murder Suspects Bailed

The High Court has granted bail to three MDC-T activists, the last still in custody of the 29 Glen View residents arrested on charges of killing police Inspector Petros Mutedza two years ago.Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa and Last Maengahama had been remanded in prison when 21 others were discharged at the close of the State's case last year.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu granted the trio bail on the same terms and conditions as the other four co-accused in the matter received at the end of last year.

The three have been in custody since March 1, 2012 when they were indicted for trial. Ruling on the bail application in his chambers, Justice Bhunu took judicial notice that the trial of the suspects had been delayed for too long.

He said since the trial began there had been delays in concluding the case due to illness, non-availability of lawyers or witnesses, among a host of reasons.

Justice Bhunu said the State did not set the matter down for hearing at the opening of the current legal year and now wanted the trial to resume next month.

This leaves the court with the unpleasant feeling that the State has taken the foot off the pedal in the comfort that they now have applicants tucked away in prison while they attend to other things with the applicants stewing in prison, said Justice Bhunu.

"I can, however, not emphasise the need to act with speed and due diligence whenever the liberty of a citizen is at stake."

Justice Bhunu concluded that the prosecution's dilly-dallying in bringing the trial to finality constituted a special reason to grant the suspects bail.

One of the original 29 suspects has since died while four others, who are yet to be put to their defence, were granted bail at the end of last year.

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