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Attorney general reduces charges against "Standard" journalists

(MISA/IFEX) - The Attorney-General (AG)'s Office has reportedly withdrawn part of the criminal charges against "Standard" reporter Patience Nyangove and editor Nevanji Madanhire. The three are being jointly charged with Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) human resources manager, Loud Ramakgapola. AMH are publishers of the "Standard", "Zimbabwe Independent" and "Newsday".

According to the "Newsday"'s 1 September 2011 edition, the defendants' lawyer Linda Cook submitted on 31 August before Harare magistrate Donald Ndirowei that the AG's Office had decided not to proceed with the charges under Section 31(a) (iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. The section criminalizes the" publishing or communication of false statements prejudicial to the State and statements undermining public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the Prison Service or the Defense Forces of Zimbabwe.

The State, however, is said to be proceeding with the charge of criminal defamation. Meanwhile, conditions set on Madanhire's reporting were also set aside. Cook also applied for the release of Nyangove's cellphone on the next date of their appearance in court on 14 September if the matter fails to proceed to trial.


BACKGROUND:

The trio, who are also being charged with criminal defamation as defined under Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, were arrested following the publication of a story carried in the weekly "Standard" issue of 26 June - 2 July, entitled: "MDC-T fears for missing Timba". The story alleged that the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Jameson Timba, had been arrested by police officers who included "the notorious Chrispen Makedenge" when the latter was allegedly not involved in the arrest.

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