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Former US Congressman Reynolds' Case Postponed to Friday


Former U.S. Congressman Melvin Reynolds

Former U.S. Congressman Melvin Reynolds

Former United States Congressman Melvin Reynolds appeared in court Thursday, the second time this week, on charges of violating Zimbabwe's immigration and censorship laws.

Donning Zimbabwe’s khakhi prison garb, Reynolds struggled to alight from the back of a government van bringing prisoners to court. The hand-cuffed former lawmaker had to be assisted by two inmates as he limped his way through to the court house.

The former US Congressman, who pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing pornography Wednesday, could hardly find his balance as he walked into the courthouse.

His attorney Arthur Gurira asked the court to postpone the matter to Friday for a plea recording on charges of violating the Immigration Act. Gurira said his client is failing to fully understand the nature of the charges, adding he needs time to explain to him before the case resumes.

On the second charge of possessing pornographic material, Gurira gave notice to Magistrate Tendai Mahwe that when the matter comes back to court, his client will be making an application to challenge his placement on remand.

Nothing was said in court Thursday regarding Reynolds' health condition. Previously he was said to be suffering from high blood pressure.

Asked whether authorities treated him in line with Wednesday’s court order that he be taken to hospital for treatment, Gurira said everything was everything was under control.

Reynolds was arrested in Zimbabwe this week and pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing pornography.

A state prosecutor said that Reynolds was caught with pornographic images and videos on his mobile phone, in violation of censorship laws.

He also said Reynolds was living in the country on an expired visa and should have left Zimbabwe on December 10.

In the 1990s, Reynolds held a Chicago-area seat in the US House of Representatives, and was considered a rising star in the US Democratic party.

But he was forced to resign his seat in 1995 after being convicted of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography.

While in jail in the United States, he was also convicted of bank and campaign fraud. His sentence was commuted by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

The 62-year-old Reynolds made attempts to win back his congressional seat in 2004 and 2013 but lost primary elections both times.

In Zimbabwe, he reportedly tried to attract investors for a hotel project.

The US Embassy in Zimbabwe has refused to comment on Reynolds' arrest.
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