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Journalists' trial postponed after dismissal of lawyers' application to stop proceedings

(MISA/IFEX) - On 2 July 2008, the trial of two Kwekwe-based journalists accused of publishing falsehoods in breach of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was postponed to 15 July. The postponement took place after the trial judge dismissed the defence's application to stop proceedings pending an appeal of the judge's refusal to release the journalists.

Wycliff Nyarota and James Muonwa are facing charges under Section 80 (1) (a) (2) of AIPPA for allegedly unlawfully and intentionally publishing a false story in the "Network Guardian" newspaper which stated that George Muvhimi and Tatenda Munhanga were caught in a compromising position at a local shopping centre. Nyarota and Muonwa's former colleague, journalist Blessed Mhlanga, was earlier found not guilty and acquitted of the charges.

In his 2 July ruling, Kwekwe magistrate Oliver Mudzongachiso said that there was no merit in the defence's application for the proceedings to be halted, adding that for a court to stop proceedings the defence would have to show that he had demonstrated gross misconduct in his handling of the case. He said the defence could appeal his entire judgement upon conclusion of the trial if he convicts either of the two journalists.

The journalists are being represented by lawyers Prayers Chitsa and James Magodora with assistance from MISA-Zimbabwe legal officer Wilbert Mandinde.

Updates the Nyarota and the Muonwa cases:

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