via Beatrice Mtetwa finally acquitted | SW Radio Africa by Mthulisi Mathuthu November 26, 2013
The trial of prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa finally ended Tuesday with a magistrate finding her not guilty of obstructing the course of justice.
Mtetwa was arrested on 17th March and has been defending the matter in court since 10th June. Following her arrest Mtetwa spent eight nights in prison until she was granted bail by Justice Joseph Musakwa.
Police accused her of interfering with a search in one of former Prime Minister Morgan’s Tsvangirai’s offices in Avondale, Harare.
But magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa on Tuesday delivered a verdict of not guilty. Mtetwa was acquitted at the closure of the case by the state and was not required to respond to the evidence.
According to a Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum statement, Mugwagwa said Mtetwa had ‘done nothing to interfere with investigations the police were conducting.’
An inspection conducted at the premises where Mtetwa was arrested, established that she could not ‘have interfered with what was going on in an area of the house where she could not see what was happening’.
Mtetwa was ‘guarded and in handcuffs in a vehicle outside the premises’.
According to the statement the magistrate ‘castigated the police for presenting contradictory testaments when they are professionals whose work relies on observation.’
Mtetwa told SW Radio Africa that her case was a ‘deliberate persecution meant to take me out of the legal space for a couple of months, particularly ahead of the election’.
Mtetwa said the state had achieved its goal because she spent ‘a lot of time’ defending herself ‘instead of defending other people’ as a result of her persecution.
She added that her acquittal was not a matter for celebrating because she ‘ought not to have been brought to court in the first place.’ Mtetwa added that she feared that more people will still be persecuted in future.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Executive Director Irene Petras said ‘retrogressive forces sought to use scurrilous charges to soil Mtetwa’s name and the 30years of sweat she has put into building her reputation as an honourable lawyer’.
Metwa’s acquittal follows that of another human rights activist and lawyer, Abel Chikomo, who was last Friday found not guilty of running an ‘unregistered’ organisation.
As in Mtetwa’s case the magistrate said there was ‘absolutely’ no case against Chikomo.