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Journalist For The Zimbabwean Newspaper Relates Ordeal In Custody

Released by Zimbabwean authorities late this week, reporter Gift Phiri of the London-based emigré newspaper The Zimbabwean said Friday that he is being treated for a broken arm and soft tissue injuries sustained when he was beaten in custody.

Police arrested Phiri on the weekend of March 31-April 1 and charged him with writing falsehoods and practicing journalism without official accreditation.

Now receiving treatment at a Harare clinic, Phiri said he was assaulted by the chief superintendent of the Law and Order Section and four other officers for refusing to reveal the sources for articles he published in The Zimbabwean. Though edited in Britain, the newspaper circulates in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

A Harare magistrate released Phiri on Thursday on Z$200,000 bail. He must report to the police three times a week as a state prosecutor said he might flee the country.

Phiri told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that despite the beatings and official pressure he refused to give up his journalistic rights.

Police have threatened to issue a warrant if he does not report as ordered, but Phiri said he can barely walk because of his injuries. Phiri's wife went to Harare Central Police Station to submit medical evidence that he is being treated for injuries.

Phiri's lawyer, Rangu Nyamurundira of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, could not be reached. But legal analyst Jacob Mufume said the magistrate in the case should have made provision in bail conditions for him to receive treatment because his condition was obvious to all those in the courtroom. Mafume said Phiri should be exempted from the obligation to report thrice weekly until he recovers.

More reports from VOA'S Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...