via Beatrice Mtetwa trial delayed again | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda on Friday, September 27, 2013
The trial of human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who is facing charges of obstructing justice, has been delayed again after the state failed to provide witnesses Thursday.
Lawyer Harrison Nkomo told SW Radio Africa Friday that the defence team, the prosecutor and the Magistrates Court had agreed to proceed with the case all week, but no witnesses were provided Thursday and Friday. This has led to an adjournment until October 4th.
“This is of concern to us because my client has a life and a constitutional right to a speedy trial. This delaying tactic by the state does not in any way advance the interests of justice,” Nkomo explained.
Mtetwa was arrested on March 17th and faces criminal charges for asking police officers to show their warrant authorising a search of her clients’ premises. The police had entered the home of Thabani Mpofu, an aide to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, to conduct a search.
Mpofu was part of a group of researchers from the then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office, that had been arrested on allegations of impersonating law enforcement agents and compiling dockets about corrupt State officials. The group also included Warship Dumba, Felix Matsinde and Mehluli Tshuma.
For defending her client Mpofu’s rights, Mtetwa was taken to Harare Central police station in handcuffs and detained for eight days. This was despite a High Court order calling for her release. She was eventually released on $500 bail and the case had dragged on since then.
The prosecution of this prominent human rights defender has been widely criticized by observers, with many saying it was part of a wider crackdown on individual freedoms around the country, ahead of the July 31st election.