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Two-year-old terrorist?

Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko and seven others and two-year-old Nigel Mutemagau were held and denied bail at the end of 2008 after being accused of banditry and terrorism in connection with an alleged plot to train armed insurgents in Botswana.

Minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa filed a carefully worded affidavit implicitly admitting the State’s role in the abductions of the seven and refusing to disclose any identifying aspects of the location or persons involved in the operation, saying that it was necessary for State security.

High Court Justice Alphus Chikayunye sided with the State, agreeing to keep the details of Mukoko’s abduction secret.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE29, TORTURE, TERRORISM, AND THE RED VAN: UPDATE ON

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE29

2009-01-09 11:11

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO3117

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0029/01 0091111

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 091111Z JAN 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3908

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2538

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2660

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1153

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1929

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2284

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2709

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5137

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1820

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000029

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/09/2019

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: TORTURE, TERRORISM, AND THE RED VAN: UPDATE ON

COURT CASES

 

REF: A. HARARE 18

B. 08 HARARE 1147

C. 08 HARARE 1145

D. IIR 6 926 0036 09

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4(d).

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Court cases continue for 18 Zimbabweans abducted

between late October and mid-December who face various

accusations related to terrorism, banditry, and mounting an

armed insurgency. Prominent human rights activist Jestina

Mukoko and eight others remain in custody until their next

appearance on January 14, pending High and Supreme Court

cases. On January 7, seven abductees were formally charged

with terrorism in association with various police station

bombings. Physicians have examined the 18 and found evidence

of torture, although police have refused to honor court

orders that would allow them treatment. Finally, on January

8, charges against the three white Zimbabweans arrested on

January 6 were dropped. Of the 32 individuals who have been

abducted since October 31, 14 remain unaccounted for.

Despite Morgan Tsvangirai’s December 19 statement that he

would not resume negotiations unless abductees were charged

or appeared in state custody, the MDC has not made any

statements regarding either the cases or those that are still

missing. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————————— —————

Torture Documented; AG’s Office Says Evidence “Not Credible”

——————————————— —————

 

2. (C) In compliance with a magistrate’s decision on December

29, Jestina Mukoko and others were examined for torture on

December 30 by physicians from the Counseling Services Unit

at a prison hospital (refs B and C). Prison personnel

witnessed the exams. CSU shared the exam affidavits with us,

which show that nearly all of the abductees were blindfolded,

beaten and/or kicked, and threatened; most were subjected to

solitary confinement and some experienced significant weight

loss. Their captors used other forms of torture including

electric cables, sodomy, burning with hot water, and

suspension upside down (one man’s head was forced repeatedly

into a bucket of water while he was suspended). Many victims

require more extensive examination, such as x-rays, to better

evaluate the extent of injury.

 

3. (U) Despite continued requests that the victims be

released from prison facilities – under guard if necessary –

for additional examination and treatment, all remain in

prison. Lawyers have applied to the High Court to try to

secure another ruling to compel police to release them to a

private clinic, but the case has not been heard yet. In a

hearing on January 6, the prosecutor said that the evidence

of torture was “not credible.” In a bail hearing on January

8, three accused of a bombing plot testified about beatings,

forced confessions, and torture in state custody before they

were sent to police custody on December 23. The hearing was

set to continue on January 9.

 

—————————————–

Terrorism Case #1: Mukoko   Seven   Baby

—————————————–

 

4. (SBU) Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko and

seven others (plus two-year-old Nigel Mutemagau) accused of

banditry and terrorism in connection with an alleged plot to

 

HARARE 00000029 002 OF 003

 

 

train armed insurgents in Botswana remain in State custody

and have not yet been formally charged with any crime. On

December 31, the High Court heard an urgent application from

Mukoko’s lawyers, calling on the State to identify the names

and locations where Mukoko was held in custody. Minister of

State Security Didymus Mutasa filed a carefully worded

affidavit implicitly admitting the State’s role in the

abductions and refusing to disclose any identifying aspects

of the location or persons involved in the operation, saying

that it was necessary for State security. On January 2, High

Court Justice Alphus Chikayunye sided with the State,

agreeing to keep the details of Mukoko’s abduction secret.

 

5. (SBU) In bail hearings on January 5 and 6, the State

continued to oppose bail, arguing that because of the serious

charges they should remain in custody. Lawyers on both sides

have filed appeals and counter-appeals that are in the High

Court and Supreme Court, with defense lawyers arguing, in

part, that they were brought to court through illegal

procedures and that charging them would legitimize State

kidnapping. The magistrate deferred the case to January 14,

to allow time for the High and Supreme Courts to review the

appeals before them. Until then, all nine will remain in

custody.

 

——————————————— –

Terrorism Case #2: The Seven (Alleged) Bombers

——————————————— –

 

6. (SBU) On January 6, the State filed formal charges against

a group of seven men for their alleged involvement in various

police station bombings. They could face the death penalty

for the charge under section 23 (1) of the Criminal Act,

which criminalizes insurgency, banditry, sabotage, or

terrorism. Their lawyer said the charges border on

“silliness and senselessness.” In their bail hearing on

January 7 and 8, the defense pointed out the numerous

inconsistencies and impossible claims the State continues to

make. For instance, the State claims all seven participated

in the physically impossible task of simultaneously planting

two bombs in completely different locations. (NOTE: Previous

reporting (ref D) indicated that at least one of the police

station bombings was carried out by soldiers seeking to

destroy evidence in a fingerprint lab that would have

connected them to theft of supplies at a military hospital.

END NOTE.)

 

—————————————–

Terrorism Case #3: The Two in Legal Limbo

—————————————–

 

7. (SBU) Two other accused persons, Tawanda Bvumo and Pascal

Gonzo, were supposed to be removed from remand and released

on December 29. The State appealed, but the magistrate

refused to hear the appeal on January 6, declaring that

another magistrate had already decided. The two remain in

prison, and it is unclear when or if their case will be

reviewed by another magistrate or judge.

 

——————————————— —-

(Dropped) Terrorism Case #4: The White Landowners

——————————————— —-

 

8. (SBU) On January 6, three white men who own land just east

of Harare were arrested at their homes (ref A). At the time,

police said they were being taken for violating section 24(b)

of the Criminal code, for providing training for committing

insurgency, banditry, or terrorism. The charges were dropped

on the morning January 8, but all three men were still in

police custody 24 hours later.

 

HARARE 00000029 003 OF 003

 

 

 

——————————-

Mystery of The Red Van Resolved

——————————-

 

9. (SBU) In numerous court appearances, accused persons have

been brought to court in a red Volkswagen van with South

African license plates. The same van was reportedly used by

State security agents to transport Mukoko, Takawira, and

others between locations before they were released to the

police on December 22. This week the press unraveled the

mystery and reported that the van had been used by a team of

Sky News journalists from South Africa. The journalists were

arrested in Zimbabwe in May 2008 and police confiscated all

of their equipment and the van before the trio was deported

to South Africa.

 

——————————

COMMENT: Where is the outrage?

——————————

 

10. (C) The now-familiar charade of court hearings in

Zimbabwe continues to play out in a pattern more predictable

than most TV courtroom dramas. Although Morgan Tsvangirai

publicly delivered an ultimatum to the GOZ on December 19,

saying he would pull out of talks unless the abductees

surfaced by January 1, he and the MDC continue to be silent

on the issue. With at least 14 abductees still missing, his

ultimatum has clearly not been met, and his continued silence

is a sign that he’s not willing to make good on his threats.

If Tsvangirai and Mugabe return to the negotiating table,

Tsvangirai’s poor handling of the abductions issue will

weaken his negotiating position–and his credibility with his

own constiuency. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(34 VIEWS)

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