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from DANAI MARUMBA in Mutare
MUTARE, (CAJ News) – A MAGISTRATE’S court in the Eastern Highlands of Mutare has begun a trial of a government minister and the police commissioner for their complicity in the unlawful arrest of more than 100 students whom they illegally detained in 2016.
Mutare magistrate, Innocent Bepura, is presiding over a probe of home affairs minister, Ignatius Chombo, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, and some police officers after a lawsuit filed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights on behalf of Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu).
It follows the mass arrests in the city a year ago.
The Zinasu members together with other 100 student activists had convened a general council meeting in the Manicaland province to discuss the welfare of impoverished students in tertiary institutions.
During the course of those discussions, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) effected a dragnet arrest on the students.
They were not advised of the charges levelled against him.
Following the intervention of their lawyers, last year, Mutare Magistrate Poterai Gwezhira declared their arrest unlawful.
Each Zinasu member is demanding $5 000 (N66 000) as compensation for damages.
Lawyers for Human Rights said filing civil claims against Chombo, Chihuri and some ZRP members, would hold the government of President Robert Mugabe accountable for acts of impunity and ensure protection of the accused person’s rights.
Mugabe’s cash-strapped government has over the years experienced frosty relations with students at tertiary universities.
Government denounces the scholars as fronts for the opposition while the undergraduates accuse government of ignoring their plight and wrecking the country’s economy.
– CAJ News