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Authorities release activist held on charges of "communicating falsehoods"

(MISA/IFEX) - On 16 September 2008, Peter Muchengeti, the regional chairman of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) in the Midlands Province, was freed after being held on charges of communicating falsehoods, owing to lack of evidence in the matter.

Prosecutor Katherine Chisvo told Gweru Magistrate Irvine Mhlanga that the state was withdrawing its case against Muchengeti owing to lack of evidence.

The state had argued that Muchengeti had allegedly told Voice of America's (VOA) Studio 7 in an interview broadcast from Washington, D.C. that "six bodies" had been discovered in Matshekandumba village at the 30-kilometre peg along the Kwekwe-Gweru highway. The state dismissed the allegations as "wholly false". Following the accusations, on 18 July police in Gweru raided the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) offices and arrested and detained Muchengeti for three days.
The police also impounded office equipment amid reports that Muchengeti had also been found in possession of broadcasting equipment.

Muchengeti, who was represented by lawyer Reginald Chidawaenzi, informed the court that he had been subjected to inhuman treatment and tortured while he was in custody. The state said it did not have any reports of the alleged torture. Muchengeti, however, said he had instructed his lawyer to institute a civil suit against state security agents and the Ministry of Home Affairs for the torture he endured at the hands of the police.

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