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Newspaper editors face charges, arrested and released on bail

(MISA/IFEX) - On 11 May 2009, "Zimbabwe Independent" editors Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure were arrested on charges of publishing or communicating a statement wholly or with the intention of undermining public confidence in law enforcement agents, under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Kahiya and Chimakure presented themselves at the Law and Order Section of Harare Central police station in the morning of 11 May in the company of their lawyer Innocent Chagonda after the police searched for them at the "Zimbabwe Independent" offices on 9 May. They were interrogated for several hours and made to sign warned and cautioned statements. They were detained at around 17:00hrs (local time).

The police alleged that the Central Intelligence Officials (CIO) and police officers listed in a recent "Zimbabwe Independent" article as being involved in the 2008 abductions of human rights and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists, amongst them freelance journalist Shadreck Andrisson Manyere, were in actual fact summoned as witnesses by the State .

On 12 May, Harare Magistrate Catherine Chimanda granted the editors bail of US$200 each, remanding them to 28 May. As part of the bail conditions the two are expected to report to the Police Law and Order section once a week.

The editors are expected to challenge the material in the State outline, which states that the article published was "materially and wholly false".


The story titled, "CIO, police role in activists' abduction revealed", states that notices of indictment for trial in the High Court which begins on 29 June, recently served on some of the activists, revealed that the activists were either in the custody of the CIO or police during the period they were reported missing.

Amongst those named are CIO Assistant Director External, retired brigadier Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, Police Superintendents, Reggies Chikwete and Joel Tendere, Detective Inspectors, Elliot Muchada and Joshua Muzangano, CID Homicide Officer Commanding, Crispen Kadenge, Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi and Senior Assistant Commissioner, Simon Nyathi.

Kahiya and Chimakure's arrest follows on the heels of defamation charges levelled against editor Brezhnev Malaba and reporter Nduduzo Tshuma, of the provincial State-controlled daily "The Chronicle", over an article exposing alleged police involvement in maize scandal at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), published in the paper in February.

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