State withdraws legal assistance to Mukokos torture masters

mukoko_recentThe government has withdrawn legal assistance to torture masters who last year were responsible for the abduction and torture of prominent human rights activist Jestina Mukoko (pictured) and several other MDC activists.

The deputy Attorney-General, Prince Machaya, told the Associated Press news agency on Sunday that the state will not represent officials who are being sued by Mukoko and eight others. The activists are seeking US$500 million, for wrongful arrest, torture and abduction, after their terror charges were dropped by the Supreme Court two weeks ago. Mukoko is seeking $250 million of that settlement with the rest split between the other activists.

Former intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa, co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, national Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and several senior police and intelligence officers, are those being sued for the abduction, wrongful arrest and torture of Mukoko and the MDC activists.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ruled recently that Mukoko and her co-accused could not be tried now, or in the future, because their constitutional rights had been violated. Mukoko was abducted from her Norton home in the early hours of the morning last year in December and was held incommunicado for three months. When she finally appeared in court she was charged with helping to recruit people for purposes of military training in Botswana.

The accusations that Mukoko and the others had been plotting to overthrow Robert Mugabe had been widely denounced as trumped-up and politically motivated. Human rights lawyer Nyaradzo Muza told us that by withdrawing legal assistance to the defendants, the inclusive government was actually distancing itself from acts of torture.

If the state went ahead and represented them, they will be endorsing torture. Dont forget the Supreme Court has already ruled that their abduction and torture was illegal and that their constitutional rights were violated, Muza said.

Its a tacit admission by the AGs office that Mukoko and others were wronged by these officials outside official government guidelines. What the state is doing is separating what these people did in their personnel capacity from official duties, the human rights lawyer added.

Muza said it was quite a momentous decision in terms of human rights progress in the country. The state may be now trying to distance itself from human rights abuses and torture, but it is a commonly accepted fact that the violence spiral that plunged Zimbabwe into chaos was orchestrated and organised at the highest levels of government.

Post published in: Politics

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