Harare, May 8, 2014 – Police on Thursday launched a fresh crackdown on human rights lawyers by preferring charges against Trust Maanda, a prominent attorney, who has successfully represented several human rights defenders and opposition political activists in Zimbabwe.
According to a statement released by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Maanda was charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice in contravention of Section 184 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act on Thursday, when he reported at Southerton Police Station after being summoned by the police.
Although details about the charges preferred against Maanda were still sketchy, Radio VOP understands from its sources that the police claim that the human rights lawyer defeated or obstructed the course of justice when he recently represented some Mbada Diamonds employees in filing a lawsuit in the High Court against Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, and Police Commissioner-General over the seizure of their vehicles which were confiscated by the police when they were arrested in connection with a $3 million diamond theft case.
In their High Court lawsuit, the Mbada Diamonds employees revealed that police officers forced them to admit that they sold diamonds to Mudassar Khan who in turn bought them vehicles. The employees said they made such a confession in order to save themselves from further harassment by the police.
Maanda, who in 2010 was part of the legal team that secured the acquittal of MDC treasurer-general and former Chimanimani legislator Roy Bennett is the second human rights lawyer to be targeted by Zimbabwean authorities in less than two years after the police preferred the same charges against award winning human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa in March last year.
However, Mtetwa was acquitted of the charges in November although the National Prosecuting Authority has appealed against her discharge.