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article imageZimbabwe High Court gives lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa bail

By Amanda Payne     Mar 25, 2013 in World
After more than a week in jail and an ongoing legal battle, the award winning Zimbabwean Human Rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa was finally released on bail today.
Digital Journal has been following this story since Beatrice Mtetwa was originally arrested on Sunday March 17 when she went to the aid of clients, members of the opposition MDC party, who were being arrested by the police following the referendum on the constitution held in Zimbabwe on Saturday March 16. Her clients were being subjected to searches by the police. When Ms Mtetwa asked to see the search warrant, the police failed to produce it and then arrested her on charges of 'obstructing the course of justice'.
Ms Mtetwa's lawyer told the BBC today, March 25, that he was on his way to pay the bail, set at $500. The High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa said that Ms Mtetwa "should not have been denied bail. She is a practitioner of many years of experience." The courtroom was packed with supporters including two government ministers.
The Zimbabwean reports that the Judge overturned the decision made by Harare magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa last week after her team of lawyers said that " the state had failed to substantiate its argument that Mtetwa will interfere with state witnesses and cause commotion if released on bail. Mtetwa was arrested on Sunday 17 March 2013 and charged with contravening Section 184 (1) (g) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly defeating or obstructing the course of justice."
Allegations have been made by her lawyers that she was mistreated whilst in Zimbabwe's notorious Chikurubi prison. She was unable to have a bath or see her family. It is alleged that prison officers attempted to take away her blankets in the middle of her first night in jail.
There has been an international outcry over the arrest of Beatrice Mtetwa who has won numerous awards for her work as a Human Rights lawyer, with Amnesty International at the forefront of the campaign to secure her release.
Whilst the voting for the referendum, which curbs presidential powers and sets limits on presidential terms, was relatively peaceful, by Zimbabwe standards, there is much concern that the arrest of the MDC supporters and their internationally known lawyer is just a foretaste of what is to come when elections are held later this year.
More about Zimbabwe, Beatrice Mtetwa, Human Rights
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