Chihuri stops all murder probes

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Bennett to be used as hostage for amnesty?

The Mugabe regime has moved swiftly to stop all investigations into
murders committed by Zanu (PF) agents, including the police, army and
militia, before during and after the March and June 2008 elections.

The fear of being brought to book for their numerous crimes against
humanity has driven Zimbabwe's military junta to take the most extreme
measures in the 10 days since Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to participate
in the government of national unity.

It has become increasingly apparent that the junta never expected the
MDC to agree to the patently unfair terms of the power sharing
agreement, and that Tsvangirai's decision to come into the government
caught them flat-footed.

Their desperate rear-guard action to force the MDC to walk away from
the deal includes keeping the 42 MDC and civil society activists
incarcerated and the farcical kidnapping last Friday of minister of
agriculture designate, Roy Bennett. He was dragged off a private plane,
driven to Mutare in General Constantine Chiwenga's personal vehicle and
thrown into prison, despite spirited all-night protests by MDC members
in Mutare. An absurd range of trumped-up charges were levelled against
him – all of which his lawyers immediately rebutted.

The MDC suspects that Mugabe and his cabal of generals are planning to
use Bennett as a bargaining chip to negotiate a blanket amnesty for all
the crimes against humanity committed by their puppets in the police,
army, CIO and youth brigades since 1980.

Zanu (PF) sources told the Cape Argus that Mugabe could use Bennett to
bargain for the inclusion of more ministers in government, as he faces
a major revolt over his controversial appointment of cabinet officials.
Many loyal Zanu (PF) officials are livid at being left out as Mugabe
could appoint only 15 ministers when he usually had more than 30, says
the newspaper.

More than 300 MDC activists and officials were kidnapped and murdered
during the election period. A further 500 people disappeared and are
presumed to have been murdered. In addition, hundreds of thousands were
beaten, raped and driven from their homes.

The order to drop all cases relating to murders committed during the
run-up to last year’s June 27 presidential election came from Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri.

This is a clear indication that the reign of terror against MDC
supporters was sanctioned at the highest level of government, and the
perpetrators knew that they would never be punished – if indeed they
were ever investigated at all.

A circular to all provincial commanders dated February 10 has been
leaked to the media, in which Chihuri orders that all murder cases
committed during the run-up to the sham June 27 election be dropped.
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of this run-off, citing
violence against his supporters.

Part of Chihuri's circular reads: "Please be advised that all murder
cases committed during the run up to the presidential election run-off
and have not been finalised be dropped immediately.  The decision has
been made in the spirit of promoting national healing in view of the
inclusive government."

It is not clear who took the decision to drop the murder charges –
whether instructions came from the politicians or whether this was done
by the cabal of military generals who are working feverishly to disrupt
the newly-inaugurated inclusive government.

Evidently this reprieve applies only to Zanu (PF) members and not to the MDC.

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