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Court Punishes Editor For Violating Media Law

The editor of a weekly Zimbabwean newspaper, who was arrested Tuesday for publishing without a license, has been sentenced to eight months in prison and fined $100 with six months suspended on condition that he pays the fine.

Mirror editor Dennis Kagonye appeared before a magistrate in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West Province, and pleaded guilty to operating without a license.

Attorney Kudzai Choga of Muchineripi and Associates said his client has until the end of the month to pay the fine.

Choga said the magistrate gave Kagonye a light sentence because the newspaper is currently in the process of trying to regularize its operations.

Magistrate Funny Nyakudya said Kagonye was also a first offender who has since deposited $500 with the government seeking an operating license.

Meanwhile, the three Counseling Services Unit employees arrested Monday for allegedly possessing subversive materials were on Wednesday transferred to Bulawayo where the state said the offense was committed.

Spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told VOA that their clients’ rights were being violated, especially as they have been in custody for more than 48 hours.

The three are director Fidelis Mudimu, Zachariah Godi and Tafadzwa Gesa who are accused of defacing a building and posters in Bulawayo.

Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of three.

“The detention of these NGO workers is illegal and Amnesty International calls on the Zimbabwe police to release them immediately,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.

Kututwa said: “Amnesty International regards all three of these men as prisoners of conscience, arrested solely for their legitimate work providing counseling services to victims of torture and organized violence.”

He noted that the unlawful detention of the three is indicative of the Southern African Development Community’s failure to enforce security sector reforms in Zimbabwe as agreed in the Global Political Agreement.

“SADC should urgently act to stop this ongoing harassment and intimidation of civil society organizations in Zimbabwe,” said Kututwa.

In another development, the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Energy Minister and party deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma on Wednesday received summons from the police ordering him to appear before the Bindura Magistrate Courts on November 13 to answer charges of insulting President Robert Mugabe.

Mangoma was arrested last month and was charged with insulting Mr. Mugabe at a rally last month at Manhenga Business Centre, Mashonaland Central Province. Mangoma is denying the charges.

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