Zimbabwean researcher and activist Farai Maguwu, arrested in early June for allegedly publishing false reports about human rights violations in the country's eastern Marange diamond field, was released on bail on Monday on a High Court order after spending five weeks in police custody in Mutare and Harare.
Maguwu, accused of publishing and communicating falsehoods injurious to state interests, was ordered released on bail of US$1,500 by a Harare High Court justice, though with strict conditions.
VOA Studio 7 correspondent Irwin Chifera reported that Judge Mawadze Garainesu said the prosecution had failed to give good reason on why Maguwu, director of Center for Research and Development in the Manicaland province capital of Mutare, close to the Marange diamond field, should be denied bail.
"In my view the charges are very simple, clear and straightforward," Garainesu said in his ruling.
"They involve publication of falsehoods prejudicial to state. The presumption of innocence operates in favor of the appellant, in other words grounds for refusal of bail should be substantiated."
Maguwu was arrested June 3 after a meeting with Kimberley Process monitor Abbey Chikane, to whom he gave copies of official documents which Chikane then turned over to authorities.
After bail was ordered, Maguwu and his lawyers met with resistance from magistrate's court officials when they tried to post his bail. Attorney Tinoziva Bere says it took more than six hours to obtain his client’s release.
Maguwu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira he is happy to be free following weeks of detention.
Maguwu’s release comes just two days before members of the Kimberly Process and the World Diamond Council are to meet in St Petersburg, Russia, to discuss certification of diamonds from Marange. Kimberly members failed to reach consensus last month on certifying Marange gems amid allegations of human rights abuses.