24 March 2014

Swaziland: Editor Appears in Court in Leg Irons

Photo: Nadia Neophytou
Protesting for Democracy and freedom of expression (file photo).

The Swaziland magazine editor Bheki Makhubu, whose arrest and jailing has sparked an outcry across the world, appeared in court in leg irons for a bail application.

Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine, is charged with contempt of court for writing and publishing articles critical of the judiciary in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer, faces similar charges.

Makhubu appeared in the Swazi High Court for a bail application clad in leg irons and was surrounded by armed guards. His application was postponed until 28 March 2014 and he was returned to jail. Maseko is also remanded in custody but has made no application for bail.

The Swazi News, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, reported the leg irons were removed from Makhubu immediately he entered the accused dock and were replaced after the bail hearing.

Makhubu and Maseko were arrested and jailed on remand on 18 March 2014.

The arrests of Makhubu and Maseko have been condemned worldwide by judges, lawyers and groups including, Freedom House, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network.

Amnesty International has named both men 'prisoners of conscience.'

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