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Police Raid Mutare, Zimbabwe, Research Institute Critical of Diamond Development

Attorney Blessing Nyamaropa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told VOA that police removed documents from the Center for Research and Development but could not locate institute director Farai Maguwu

Police in Mutare, Zimbabwe, on Thursday raided a research institute that has published reports critical of the government's development of the Marange diamond field, seeking its director, Farai Maguwu, sources said.

Unable to find Maguwu, officials arrested his brother, Reason Maguwu, sources said. The research institute put out a report earlier this week alleging that thousands of carats of diamonds were being smuggled out of Marange through Mozambique and sold in the United Arab Emirates. Maguwu could not be reached for comment.

Maguwu met on Wednesday with Abbey Chikane, Kimberly Process Certification scheme monitor for Zimbabwe, who toured the Marange field which has been off-limits even to members of Parliament.

Chikane, who concluded his visit on Friday, told reporters Thursday that Zimbabwe was making progress toward compliance with the standards of his international watchdog group - though human rights activists and observers like Maguwu say that abuses and corruption continue in the rich Marange alluvial diamond field.

Attorney Blessing Nyamaropa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that police removed documents from the research center but could not locate Maguwu at his home in the Chikanga suburb of Mutare. He said he had not been able to determine where Reason Maguwu was being held.

After Chikane’s news conference in Harare on Thursday, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told VOA that the diamonds sold to buyers in the United Arab Emirates without Kimberly approval were from stockpiles mined before Marange concessions were granted to Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Mining, partners with the government.

Mutare Mayor Brian James said mineral wealth in Marange should be benefiting the country, which is strapped for reconstruction funds, but that there has been a lack of transparency in development of the resource.

In Washington for a conference on post-conflict reconstruction, James told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that shareholder information on companies extracting diamonds in Marange should be a matter of public record.

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