Zimbabwe top rights lawyer’s trial begins

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The trial began Monday for a human rights lawyer who has defended political opponents of longtime President Robert Mugabe, as state prosecutors alleged she had obstructed justice and been unruly toward police officers.

Beatrice Mtetwa is accused of using abusive language toward officers who were searching the house of an official from the party of longtime opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is now Zimbabwe’s prime minister.

Rights groups have described Mtetwa’s arrest as a sign of heightened clampdown and intimidation of human rights lawyers ahead of crucial elections that are supposed to be held on July 31.

Mtetwa, who denies any wrongdoing, says she had merely asked for a search warrant from the police after they failed to show her one.

But the state alleged in court she shouted “at the top of her voice,” saying what they were doing was “unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful.”

State prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare claimed Mtetwa insulted the police officers calling them “imbwa dzaMugabe,” which means “Mugabe’s dogs” in the local Shona language and “confused cockroaches.”

Defense attorney Harrison Nkomo said the charges are a ploy to “pin something” on Mtetwa who has represented several political opponents of Mugabe in previous lawsuits brought against them.

Nkomo claims allegations of insulting the officers were not brought against Mtetwa at her initial arrest in March and have been trumped up to make the state’s case stronger.

“These utterances have been maliciously dreamt up by the officers . . . in order to make a non-existent case against her.”

The defense on Monday further accused the state of trying to bolster its case against Mtetwa by sending Mugabe’s feared secret agents posing as journalists to coax her ex-husband to “dish out any dirt on her”.

State witness Luckson Mukazhi said Mtetwa used several “indecent” words spoken in the Shona language when she wanted to relieve herself during her detention.

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s