Zimbabwe court rules activist can’t be prosecuted


Zimbabwe‘s Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the government could not prosecute a leading human rights activist facing terrorism charges because her abduction and torture in custody infringed her rights.

Jestina Mukoko, head of a local rights group, had challenged her prosecution at the country’s highest court, accusing state security agents of abducting her from her home during a dawn raid and torturing her while she was held at secret locations, Reuters reports.

The ruling opens the way for other human rights and opposition activists to have similar charges dropped, a move that could help ease tension within the unity government formed by bitter rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Delivering the ruling, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku agreed with Mukoko’s lawyers that state security agents had not upheld her rights when bringing her before the courts.

“The state, through its agents, violated the applicant’s constitutional rights to the extent of … entitling the applicant a permanent stay of criminal prosecution,” Chidyausiku said.

Mukoko, who was abducted from her home in a dawn raid last year, wept and hugged friends and relatives outside the courtroom.

“It just did not make sense, I could not believe people could charge me with something like that … and to be referred to as a common criminal, ah …,” a relieved Mukoko said.