Mtetwa Seeks Acquittal Over Police Obstruction Charges
Harare, October 24, 2013 – Prominent human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa on Thursday launched a bid to be acquitted by informing Harare Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa that she will file an application for discharge at the close of the State case.
Mtetwa told Magistrate Mugwagwa at the end of an inspection-in-loco conducted at the residence of Thabani Mpofu, an aide to former Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai that she will file the application for discharge at the close of the State case by November 4, 2013 while Tawanda Zvekare from the Attorney General’s Office pledged to file his response to the application by November 11, 2013.
Mtetwa wants Magistrate Mugwagwa to return a verdict of not guilty after the State closed its case on October 18, 2013. Under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, the human rights lawyer is entitled to be discharged if Magistrate Mugwagwa is satisfied that there is no evidence led by the State that she committed the alleged offence of obstructing the police from carrying out their duties.
Magistrate Mugwagwa will hand down her ruling on the application on November 26, 2013.
During the on-the-spot inspection, where the Zimbabwe Republic Police deployed officers armed with truncheons, three State witnesses who arrested Mtetwa stuttered as they contradicted themselves in giving out contrasting accounts of the events that took place at the residence where the police were carrying out a search.
The witnesses struggled to bring out convincing evidence on how Mtetwa interfered with and obstructed the police from conducting their duties.
Mtetwa, who is represented by Harrison Nkomo was arrested on March 17, 2013 and charged with contravening Section 184 (1) (g) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly defeating or obstructing the course of justice. Police accused her of obstructing the course of justice by allegedly interfering with a search conducted at one of Tsvangirai’s offices in Harare. Mtetwa argues that she simply asked to be shown a search warrant by the police officers to substantiate their actions.
The persecution of the award winning human rights lawyer drew regional and international censure of Zimbabwean authorities’ handling professional lawyers.