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Photojournalist denied bail despite health problems

(MISA/IFEX) - On 16 January 2009, Harare High Court Judge Tedious Karwi dismissed a bail application by freelance photojournalist Anderson Shadreck Manyere, who is charged with alleged acts of banditry in contravention of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (CODE).

Manyere is jointly charged together with six alleged activists of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) under Section 23 of the code, which criminalises acts of insurgence, banditry, sabotage or terrorism.

In setting out grounds for the bail application, Manyere's lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, submitted that Manyere was trustworthy as he is married with children and has resided in one place for a considerably long time.

Muchadehama also submitted that given the circumstances that the applicant was brought to court and the fact that he was tortured whilst in custody, he was a victim of a criminal offence. Manyere has not to date been afforded medical treatment. Muchadehama highlighted that granting him bail would give him a chance to be medically examined and treated.

In addition, he pointed out that the prison lacked such facilities to fully examine and offer adequate treatment to Manyere.

Muchadehama argued that there was no credible case against the photojournalist, stating that the state's arguments against Manyere were generalised and did not specifically indicate his offence, as there was no corroborative evidence.

In outlining his decision, Judge Tedious Karwi said that the manner in which Manyere was arrested and what followed his arrest was "disturbing, shocking and totally unnecessary." He reiterated the urgent need for the applicant to access medical treatment from a medical institution and doctor of his choice. He emphasised that the state had to comply with whatever would come out of the doctor's recommendation, even if it means hospitalisation.

However, he went on to deny Manyere bail. Manyere is expected back in court on 7 February 2009 after the state has completed its investigations.

Manyere reportedly went missing after he had taken his vehicle to a garage in Norton, which is located about 40 kilometres west of the capital, Harare, on 13 December 2008. He appeared in court on 24 December 2008. The charges arise from his alleged illegal possession of 47 rounds of 9mm ammunition found in his wardrobe. The defence counsel denied the charge, describing it as bordering on "silliness and senselessness."

Updates the Manyere case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99763

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