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Freelance journalist relieved of requirement to report to courts, police, but still facing charges of inciting violence

(MISA/IFEX) - Freelance journalist Frank Chikowore and the 13 alleged Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters, charged with inciting public violence and burning a bus, were on 14 July 2008 removed from remand.

The presiding Magistrate, Margaret Rusinahama granted the application for removal of remand made by the defence lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, on the condition that it would not prejudice the state in any way.

State Prosecutor Chikware had earlier made an application to postpone the matter on the basis that their chief witness, Superintendent Kunyongana had died.

Muchadehama opposed the application saying Kunyongana could not be the chief witness, stating that only the bus driver, the conductor and passengers on the bus can be witnesses to the burning of the bus for which the journalist and MDC supporters are charged. Superintendent Kunyongana was the investigating officer of the matter.

He further argued that the accused persons had been on remand for too long, religiously reporting to the police and being in court on set dates, while each court case failed to commence as the state witness was not available.

In her ruling, Magistrate Rusinahama concurred with the defence ordering that the remand be lifted as the state had not given valuable reasons for further remand. She asked that the State make available other witnesses other than Kunyongana and that if there was any need for the accused to appear before the court, the state should proceed by way of summons.

The charge against Chikowore and his co-accused arises from the torching of a bus in Harare's suburb of Warren Park on 15 April.

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