BY TREVOR MUTSVAIRO
ANTI-RIOT police were deployed at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday where Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator and top party member, Job Sikhala was challenging his placement on remand in a case that has attracted international attention.
Canadian international lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, who is also now part of Sikhala’s legal team, said they were taking the case to international bodies to highlight alleged Judiciary capture and human rights abuses in the country.
Sikhala, jointly accused with fellow CCC legislator Godfrey Sithole, has been on remand at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison since June, charged with defeating the course of justice during police investigations into the murder of opposition activist, Moreblessing Ali in June.
On Tuesday, CCC activists besieged the courtroom to witness his appeal, but anti-riot police were deployed to chase them away as drama ensued.
The matter was then stood down for some minutes while CCC supporters were forced out of the courtroom by the police.
When consulted over the police action, State prosecutor Lance Mutsokoti said the law enforcement agents were enforcing COVID-19 regulations on gatherings.
Magistrate Stanford Mambanje postponed ruling to Friday.
Sikhala’s lawyer, Jeremiah Bamu said there was no justifiable reason to keep his client behind bars.
“We challenged placement on remand on the basis that there is no evidence that the crime was committed and also there is insufficient justification why the accused are continuing to be detained,” Bamu told NewsDay after the court adjourned.
Meanwhile, Amsterdam said Sikhala’s case was being closely monitored by the international community.
“Let us be very clear: The world is watching this upcoming bail hearing to ensure that due process and rule of law is observed in the case of Sikhala. There is no reason why Sikhala should spend one minute longer in jail, as this unlawful detention represents a clear violation of Zimbabwean and international law,” he said.
Sikhala’s local defence counsel also insists Sikhala is being subjected to political persecution.
Amsterdam said his law firm was preparing to file applications before international bodies, which may include listing members of government and Judiciary who engage in human rights abuses.
Amsterdam, through Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam and Partners LLP, is representing Sikhala on a pro bono basis alongside his local defence counsel.
Sikhala, who claims to have been arrested a record 67 times, has never been convicted.