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Journalists arrested at Tsvangirai’s trial

Two journalists Pedzisayi Ruhanya of the Daily News and Ishmael Mafundikwa, a freelance journalist, were arrested outside the High Court in Harare as they sought entrance to cover the treason trial of Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his two lieutenants.

Tsvangirai is charged with MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube and legislator Renson Gasela with plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

Police initially barred all non-government journalists from court but presiding judge Paddington Garwe ruled that the trial must be held in public and all interested parties should be allowed in court unless they were barred by the court.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE250, TWO JOURNALISTS ARRESTED AT TSVANGIRAI TRIAL,

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE250

2003-02-05 06:30

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 000250

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/PDPA FOR DALTON, MITCHELL AND SIMS

NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL KPAO KMDR ZI

SUBJECT: TWO JOURNALISTS ARRESTED AT TSVANGIRAI TRIAL,

OTHERS BARRED

 

1.   Two journalists were arrested outside of

Harare’s High Court on February 3 as they sought

entrance into the court to cover the opening day of

opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s treason trial.

The two journalists, Daily News Deputy News Editor

Pedzisayi Ruhanya and freelance journalist Ishmael

Mafundikwa, were charged with violating Section 17 of

the Public Order and Security Act. Section 17 deals

with inciting or participating in public violence.

The two remain in police custody on February 4 but,

according to relatives, have not been mistreated. Mr.

Mafundikwa’s lawyer hopes her client will have a

hearing on February 4.

 

2.   Police initially barred all non-government

journalists from court. Reporters from government-

owned print and electronic media were given access.

After an urgent request by the defense lawyers,

presiding judge Paddington Garwe ruled that the trial

must be “held in public” and “interested parties

should be allowed in court unless they are barred by

the court.” After the judge’s ruling, only those

journalists with valid press cards issued under the

controversial Access to Information and Protection of

Privacy Act (AIPPA). This still amounted to a partial

ban on non-government media as most foreign

correspondents and journalists from the independent

media have yet to receive accreditation.

 

3.   In the chaotic scene outside of the court

before the trial began, American journalist Andrew

Meldrum (has permanent resident status in Zimbabwe)

was pushed and shoved by police and hit over the head

with a police baton. Mr. Meldrum told Embassy officer

that he was not seriously hurt.

 

SULLIVAN

 

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