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Zimbabwe Court Dismisses Pastor Evan Mawarire's Case

Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire (2nd R), who organized a 'stay at home' anti-government protest last week, arrives at the Harare Central Police station in Zimbabwe, July 12, 2016.

A Harare magistrate has dismissed treason charges laid against Pastor Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag movement, who has been staging anti-government protests together with a youthful group, Tajamuka-Sesijukile, demanding that President Robert Mugabe should addressing many issues affecting Zimbabweans.

Pastor Mawarire, who initially faced charges of inciting public protests, was set free by the magistrate in Harare following a day-long court appearance, which culminated in the police laying fresh claims that he attempted to overthrow President Robert Mugabe’s government.

The magistrate dismissed the charges saying that the state, in changing the charges, arrested Pastor Mawarire unconstitutionally and as such he had no case to answer.

The state claimed that Pastor Mawarire, who has been demanding that the government should address the deteriorating economic situation and arrest corrupt ministers, among many other issues, violated some provisions of Section 22(2)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

There were wild jubilations at the courts when the magistrate set him free.

Pastor Mawarire thanked the cheering supporters who had rallied throughout the day outside the court, singing and praying for his release.

His lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, said, "He (Mawarire) was not advised of the subversion charges before he was brought to court. He was not properly brought before the court … that's why the magistrate refused remand."

Magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe told the court that Pastor Mawarire was wrongly arrested. "It's my finding that the National Prosecuting Authority cannot charge the accused for the first time in court without charges being read out to him."

The religious leader was arrested on Tuesday.