1 June 2009
"Zimbabwe Independent" editors to stand trial
(MISA/IFEX) - On 28 May 2009, Harare Magistrate Catherine Chimanda ruled that Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure, editors of the "Zimbabwe Independent", should appear for trial on 16 June. The two are charged under Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which criminalises the communication of statements that are likely to undermine public confidence in law enforcement agents.
The two editors, who were represented by lawyer Innocent Chagonda, successfully had their bail conditions removed. They are no longer required to report to the Police's Law and Order section every Friday as had previously been ruled. State Prosecutor Moses Musendo did not oppose the removal of the bail conditions but argued that the State had managed to prove a case against the two, which justified them standing trial.
The two face charges of publishing or communicating a statement wholly or with the intention of undermining public confidence in law enforcement agents, under Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. The charges arise from a story published in the paper in early May titled, "CIO, police role in activists' abduction revealed". The story stated that notices of indictment for trial in the High Court, which begins on 29 June, served on some of the activists revealed that the activists were either in the custody of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) or police during the period they were reported missing.
Kahiya and Chimakure published a story naming members of the CIO and police who were allegedly involved in the abductions of human rights and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists in 2008, amongst them freelance journalist Shadreck Andrisson Manyere.