Fracas as protesting Zimbabwean journalist appears in court

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Shouting and commotion disrupted Zimbabwe's normally staid Magistrates Court Thursday when investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono was ordered to spend the third night in detention after a magistrate said she could only hear his case on contempt of court charges on Friday.

Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono arrives at his home in police custody as police conduct a search of his offices in Harare on July 21, 2020, a day after he was arrested and charged with incitement to commit public violence. – Chin’ono and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume were the latest among several of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s critics to be arrested or have their homes raided and searched ahead of protests planned for July 31, 2020, with the aim to denounce state corruption. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP) (Photo by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP via Getty Images)

“Are you not embarrassed? You have no shame!” a handcuffed Chin’ono shouted as police led him into the courtroom. Police with batons later tried to disperse journalists from the courtroom, but proceedings resumed after the reporters refused to leave.

Chin’ono has been in police custody since Tuesday. His lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa argued that he should be freed when he appeared in court Thursday, arguing that police had detained the journalist for more than the prescribed 48 hours. Magistrate Gofa Marehwanazvo said she would determine the matter Friday. In the meantime, the journalist will spend the night in prison.

This is the second time Chin’ono has been imprisoned this year. He spent nearly six weeks in the harsh Chikurubi prison before being released on bail pending trial in September after he tweeted in support of an anti-government protest.

This time, prosecutors accuse him of making posts on Twitter that allegedly impaired the dignity of Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice Luke Malaba and also disparaged the country’s national prosecuting agency.

The outspoken journalist and his sympathizers allege he is being targeted for exposing government corruption.

In court on Thursday, he questioned why the police were taking him to an anti-corruption court when he was not being charged with committing corruption.

Chin’ono is one of Zimbabwe’s most prominent critics of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, accusing it of corruption and human rights abuses. The government denies the charges.

Before he was arrested in July, Chin’ono had published an expose on Twitter in which he alleged corruption involving a $60 million purchase of protective equipment for health workers. Mnangagwa later fired the health minister, who has been formally charged with corruption in the case.

Post published in: Featured

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *