Courts saw through stitch up bid: Mtetwa

via Courts saw through stitch up bid: Mtetwa 26/11/2013 by SABC

HUMAN rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, has commended the courts for acquitting her on charges of obstructing police investigations.

Mtetwa was arrested a day after the constitutional referendum in March and she spent more than a week in jail.

But a Harare magistrate ruled Tuesday that the State failed to prove that Mtetwa had obstructed police officers, when she came to the aid of her client, then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s legal adviser.

“There is no evidence that the accused disturbed the police, she is therefore discharged,” Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa ruled on Tuesday.

Mtetwa was arrested after police officers said she called them President Robert Mugabe’s “dogs” and took photographs of them during a search at the home of her client.

She described her charges as trumped-up.

“Well, of course, I feel vindicated. This was a set up and obviously the courts have seen through it. The contradictions were many and varied, so I am happy that the right conclusion has been reached as early as possible.”

Mtetwa added: “I have since March been doing nothing but defending myself, which means I have not been able to do work for a lot of my clients.

“So they made sure that they destabilised my practice and made sure my clients were not represented by a lawyer of their choice.”

In a statement, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai welcomed her acquittal, saying: “Congratulations to Beatrice Mtetwa. She is now free after a Harare magistrate today ruled that she had no case to answer.

“Beatrice, one of the most committed human rights defenders I have met, had spent the last four months fighting charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

“Her ‘crime’ was to demand a warrant from police officers who were searching the residence of Thabani Mpofu, one of my senior staffers when I was in government.”

The former premier added: “The fact that we will shortly be marking Human Rights Day and that Beatrice celebrates her birthday on Saturday makes this victory even more remarkable. I urge her to remain resilient. Don’t be silenced.”

Police beat up Mtetwa in 2003 and 2007. She has won several international awards for her bravery.