Zimbabwe: Freed Jestina Mukoko vows to continue with work

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Prominent Zimbabwe human rights activist Jestina Mukoko was on Monday
morning acquitted by the Supreme Court after she challenged the
manner in which she was arrested and treated by state security agents
last year.

Mukoko, a former broadcaster in the 1980s and some members of Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party were being charged with attempting to recruit people for military training in neighbouring Botswana to overthrow Mugabe.

Mukoko was abducted from her Norton home by state security agents in
December 2008 and held incommunicado at various secret locations where
her lawyers say she was tortured.

On Monday, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku handed down the judgement
after more than three months of the application of permanent stay of
prosecution was made.

In the judgment Chidyausiku noted that the court had unanimously found
that the state through its agents had violated Mukoko’s rights to an extent that the applicant sought a permanent stay of proceedings against her in court. “It is ordered that criminal proceedings against the applicant at the magistrates’ courts and her prosecution … are hereby stayed permanently,” said Chidyausiku to a packed court room.

An ecstatic Mukoko could not hold back her tears as she walked out of the courtroom. She received hugs of congratulation from relatives and colleagues in the civil society community. “I am just overwhelmed. I am so excited and I think I didn’t deserve to be treated like that. I just want to thank my colleagues in civil society not only in Zimbabwe but also from the region. They really stood by me,” said Mukoko almost in tears.

She said she has not been free for a long time and she would like to
spend this new found freedom with her family. Mukoko however said the persecution did not deter her from doing human rights work. “I have a passion for human rights and I would want to do what I feel is good for me and the country. I just don’t understand why anyone would charge me with terrorism,” said Mukoko. “I hope to continue with my human rights work as I have done in the past.”

The former news anchor says she was tortured and denied medical
attention while detained at an unknown place for 21 days.

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