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Zimbabwe's Prosecutor General Suspended

FILE: Zimbabwe's Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana (R) arrives escorted by policemen at the Harare Magistrates court, Feb. 2, 2016.

Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana was on Thursday suspended pending investigations by a tribunal appointed by President Robert Mugabe.

At the same time, Tomana’s trial on allegations of abuse of office failed to kick off after he asked the magistrate to recuse himself.

President Mugabe announced that prominent lawyer Ray Gova, who represented him in a high profile case brought to court by Jealous Mawarire, which resulted in Zimbabwe holding national elections in 2013 before the implementation of key democratic reforms, would be the acting prosecutor general.

At the same time, Mr. Mugabe appointed a tribunal that will investigate Tomana on various allegations raised by the Judicial Services Commission. Members of the tribunal took oath of office at State House today. The Commission has accused Tomana of disrespecting court orders, among other issues.

The Judicial Services Commission complained to President Mugabe that Tomana was no longer fit to continue as the country’s prosecutor general after leveling those allegations against him.

While members of the new tribunal were being sworn in at State House, Tomana was at the Harare Magistrates’ Court where he applied for magistrate, Vakayi Chikwekwe, to recuse himself in a matter where he is being accused of abuse office as a public officer.

In his appllication, Tomana’s attorney, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, said Chikwekwe was not suitable to preside over his client’s trial because his hands were not clean. Mpofu submitted that Chikwekwe presided over Tomana’s remand proceedings and could not therefore preside over his trial.

While the state opposed the application, Mpofu submitted that his client would not get a fair trial, adding that Chikwekwe’s recusal would ensure that the ends of justice were met.

Chikwekwe said he would give his ruling on Tomana’s application for his recusal Thursday. The application resulted in his trial that was set to begin Thursday to be put on hold pending Chikwekwe’s ruling. Tomana is facing criminal charges after being accused of illegally releasing suspects accused of allegedly plotting to bomb Gushungo Dairies, a multi-million dollar business venture owned by President Mugabe’s family.

Report on Tomana Suspension Filed By Thomas Chiripasi
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In another matter that was before the courts, magistrate Chikwekwe deferred his ruling tomorrow in a case in which 104 protestors, who were arrested in Mabvuku and Epworth suburbs on Monday, are facing charges of public violence.

One of the defense lawyers, Obey Shava, said some of the accused persons failed to appear in court for their bail application owing to injuries sustained when police officers set dogs on them and assaulted them during the demonstrations.

Shava added that the magistrate also did not entertain the defense lawyers’ request for arrested minor children to be released.

The Monday protests were a precursor to yesterday’s national job stay-away where human rights lawyers say hordes of people were arrested while business came to a standstill countrywide.