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Former US Congressman Held in Harare

Zimbabwean immigration officials say former United States of America Congressman for Chicago Melvin Jay Reynolds, arrested in Zimbabwe Monday, is still under investigation for violating the country's laws.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reports that Reynolds was arrested for breaking immigration laws and possessing pornographic material.

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba refused to comment on the arrest.

But a senior immigration official says investigations are continuing. The US embassy in Harare also declined to comment.

Reynolds, an Illinois democrat, resigned from congress in 1995 after he was convicted of 12 counts of statutory rape, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography.

The former lawmaker, according to the Herald, went to Zimbabwe last year allegedly purporting to be a middleman for foreign investors in the tourism industry. The newspaper adds he has since November accumulated hotel bills of up to $24,500 at two hotels the capital. The bills are yet to be paid.

Last year Reynolds appeared in Zimbabwe newspapers flanked by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi and former Information Minister Webster Shamu saying he was working with a local partner businessman, Farai Jere, to construct a $145 million five star Hilton Hotel along Samora Machel Avenue in Eastlea.

The project was expected to start April. Efforts to reach Jere about the project’s future were futile. His phone was not reachable.

International relations expert Clifford Mashiri told VOA Reynolds does not have diplomatic immunity, adding Harare could pursue the case to its logical end.

He said as it stands Reynolds’ activities in Zimbabwe remain shrouded in secrecy, adding April is not too far away for people to see whether the hotel construction would start or not.