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Zimbabwe Engages International Lawyers To Challenge European Sanctions


Attorney General Johannes Tomana said the government will pick up the tab for the lawsuit, but Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the Cabinet task force on re-engaging the EU was set up for dialogue, not litigation

Zimbabwean Attorney General Johannes Tomana said Friday that lawyers engaged by Harare will file a lawsuit against the European Union next week for imposing what it calls illegal sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle since 2000.

He said the suit will be filed in the European Union Court of Justice in Brussels.

Mr Tomana told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the team will brief the EU council before filing the suit. "We are done with the paperwork and what is only left is to get the necessary travel documents to (travel to) Europe," Tomana said.

How the legal team will be funded could become yet another bone of contention for the Harare national unity government. Tomana said the government will pick up the tab. But Finance Minister Tendai Biti said he was not consulted on this, adding that the Cabinet task force on re-engaging the EU was established for dialogue, not legal maneuvers.

Sources said it was decided to bolster the legal team with international lawyers this week after Switzerland denied President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace and five senior officials visas to attend a United Nations meeting in Geneva. All six were on a Swiss sanctions list. President Mugabe was given a visa, but canceled his trip to Switzerland.

Lawyer Terence Hussein, who has represented President Mugabe on occasion, said Harare has a strong case against the European Union on sanctions.

But human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the threatened lawsuit is not likely to go anywhere.

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