14 March 2017

Zimbabwe: Protestors Refuse Further Remand

THE 73 protestors accused of burning a ZRP vehicle and looting shops, among them Choppies supermarket during last year's anti-government demonstrations, appeared in court Tuesday challenging further remand.

Petros Sokole and others were represented by human rights lawyers, Trust Maanda, Jeremiah Bhamu and Harrison Nkomo who sought acquittal of their clients, arguing that police had no evidence to prove that they committed the crime.

The suspects appeared before magistrate Barbara Chimboza and Idah Maromo was prosecuting.

"There was no facial identification by the arresting details and there is no evidence to prove the essential elements of the charge," Maanda said.

The lawyer also argued that the suspect as were arrested at different places, and times while engaging in different business in and out of town, yet the charge claims they acted in common purpose.

He said four witnesses had testified so far but no one came to court injured or showing scars although they claim to have been severely assaulted by the suspects who are the ones with scars on their bodies.

"Also, no police officer pin-pointed what each of the accused persons did. No one among the witnesses confirmed taking a picture of any of the suspects burning the vehicle or stoning people's vehicles as such we pray that the accused be removed from remand," said Maanda.

According to the attorney, some of the accused persons were found in possession of clothing items but the state outline says they looted groceries.

The 73, who include two freelance journalists Tendai Mandimika and James Jemwa, were arrested in August last year.

The journalists argue that they were arrested while carrying out their duties. The other protestors said they did not even set foot in town on the day the offence was omitted.

Prosecutor Maromo told court that she will file her response to the application on Friday with magistrate Barbra Chimboza making her ruling on March 20.

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