A decision from Zimbabwe's Supreme Court on Monday barring further prosecution of human rights activist Jestina Mukoko on terrorism charges has caused alarm among top government officials and the country's security forces implicated in her late-2008 abduction and torture.
Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, and others seized by state security agents and later charged with plotting to overthrow the government of President Robert Mugabe, filed suit against the state for various abuses to which they say they were subjected, and have vowed to identify those who allegedly abducted and tortured them.
Mukoko was abducted by state security agents last December from her home in Norton about 40 kilometers northwest of Harare, the capital.
Seventeen activists of the Movement for Democratic Change have sued their alleged abductors and named the Home Affairs co-ministers, Giles Mutsekwa of the MDC and Kembo Mohadi of ZANU-PF as defendants along with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramai as defendants.
Mukoko’s lawyer said she is seeking damages from the state of US$510,000. Combined, the activists are suing for a total of US$19.5 million.
Attorney General Johannes Tomana told VOA that the state will respect the supreme court decision. He added that the state will continue to prosecute the other activists, though he conceded that his office cannot prevent the activists from suing.
The state has tried to block publication of the names of the alleged abductors and torturers, arresting newspaper reporters and editors who published reports based on court documents. But now legal experts say the Supreme Court decision leaves them exposed.
Lawyer Andrew Makoni told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Supreme Court judgment concerns Mukoko alone.