Muchadehama’s trial opens in Harare
By Tichaona Sibanda
14 October 2009
Prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama pleaded not guilty to charges of contempt of court on the first day of his trial in Harare.
The state case against Muchadehama is that he allegedly connived with Constance Gambara, a clerk to High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu to ‘unlawfully release’ on bail political detainees from police custody.
Muchadehama, who has been handling high profile political cases, denies the charges and describes them as an attempt by the state to stop him defending human rights.
“It’s a price I’m paying for defending human rights abuses in the country,” said Muchadehama, adding; “I’m here today (Wednesday) but I should have been in Murehwa defending a victim of abuse by ZANU PF.”
The state alleges that in April this year, Muchadehama unlawfully facilitated ‘the improper release’ of three political detainees, Andrison Manyere from Chikurubi Maximum Prison, as well as Gandhi Mudzingwa and Kisimusi Dhlamini who were under hospital detention at the Avenues Clinic.
Mudzingwa is a former aide to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Chris Dhlamini is the Director of Security for the MDC, whilst Manyere is a freelance journalist. Prior to this, the trio had been in police custody since 2008 following their abduction by state security agents.
Muchadehama, who is being represented by another leading human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has won several international awards for his work in defending and promoting human rights in Zimbabwe.
“They just want me here (court) on trumped up charges to make sure I’m not representing people. This is a false accusation which my defence team will crush in court,” he said.
The state has lined up eight witnesses to give evidence against Muchadehama. Only one witness, a law officer from the Attorney-General’s office gave evidence before the trial was adjourned and postponed to next week Thursday.