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Media lawyer pleads not guilty to contempt of court

(MISA/IFEX) - On 14 October 2009, prominent lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is representing freelance journalist Shadreck Manyere, pleaded not guilty to charges of contempt of court when he appeared before Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi.

Muchadehama is jointly charged with Constance Gambanga, a clerk with the High Court, for allegedly conniving and securing the unlawful release of Muchadehama's clients. The three clients include Manyere and two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists, Kisimusi Dhlamini and Gandhi Mudzingwa, who are all facing charges of sabotage, banditry and terrorism.

Muchadehama, who is a member of the Media Lawyers Network, and Gambanga, are charged with contravening section 182(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which deals with contempt of court. The charge arises from the two's alleged involvement in the improper release and committal to bail of the three accused.

The allegations are that Muchadehama connived with his co-accused and facilitated the unlawful release of the three from Chikurubi Maximum Prison on 17 April 2009. It is alleged that they did this despite knowledge of the fact that a court order had been granted giving the state leave to appeal against the granting of bail.

The state led evidence from its witness Chris Mutangadura, a law officer with the Attorney General's Office who was the prosecutor in the case against the three accused persons.

Muchadehama is represented by Beatrice Mtetwa while Denford Halimani is representing Gambanga.

The two were remanded out of custody to 22 October 2009.

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