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Prison officers disrupted treatment of detained journalist Anderson Shadreck Manyere, court is told; opposition leader and PM designate speaks on journalist's plight

(MISA/IFEX) - On 9 February 2009, the magistrates' court heard how prison officers had whisked detained freelance photojournalist Anderson Shadreck Manyere from the Avenues Clinic in Harare on 6 February before he had been accorded full medical treatment.

Defence lawyer Aleck Muchadehama described to Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa how Manyere was forcibly taken away from the clinic by prison officers without any explanation and without due regard to his medical condition.

This is despite an existing order by High Court judge Justice Tedious Karwi for the state to complete investigations on allegations by the accused that they had been tortured while in unlawful detention. The judge also ordered that Manyere be accorded medical treatment at health institutions of his own choice.

Manyere who is being charged with six Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists on alleged acts of banditry, sabotage and terrorism, failed yet again to appear in court for remand because prison officials did not have fuel for transport to bring them to court.

Muchadehama pleaded with the magistrate to ensure that the state complies with court orders and that a trial date be fixed by the next remand date on 16 February. Florence Ziyambi representing the state said investigations had been completed and that a docket had since been submitted to the Attorney-General's Office.

Ziyambi said she would enquire with the prison officers as to why they had disrupted the accused's medical treatment. On the issue of the trial date, she said that would be done as soon as they perused the docket in question.

The magistrate directed the state to submit a report on the complaints raised by the accused and to inform both the court and accused on the progress of investigations, as well as obtain a report from prison officials on why they disrupted Manyere's medical treatment at the Avenues clinic.

Meanwhile, Muchadehama also told the court that detained Zimbabwe Peace Project director and former television news anchor Jestina Mukoko required urgent medical attention. The matter was deferred to 11 February since Mukoko was not in court at the material time.

Mukoko, who was allegedly abducted from her home in Norton on the outskirts of Harare on 3 December 2008 and went missing for almost two weeks until her appearance in court on 24 December, is still to be charged.

On 10 February, Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai assured Zimbabweans of intense efforts underway to release by 11 February Manyere and Mukoko.

Addressing a press conference in Harare to announce the MDC-T's line-up for the inclusive government, Tsvangirai said the plight of the political detainees was of utter importance to him. The issue of the political detainees is a very important issue to us. "It is being attended to and we are insisting that they be released before the event tomorrow," he said.

By mentioning the "event tomorrow", Tsvangirai was referring to his inauguration as Prime Minister on 11 February. He said the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), established to monitor the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by MDC-T, MDC-M and Zanu PF on 15 September 2008 in the context of the inclusive government, was urgently seized with the matter.

Tsvangirai said he was committed to removing all restrictions to media freedom in Zimbabwe and that the issue of media reforms would be attended to immediately as envisaged under his democratic and stabilisation plan once the inclusive government is in place.

Updates the Manyere case:

For further information on the Mukoko case, see:

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