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Zimbabwe Judge Found Guilty of Corruption


The Zimbabwe High Court has found a judge guilty of inciting two fellow justices to commit corrupt acts.

Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe found Benjamin Paradza guilty of charges under Zimbabwe's Prevention of Corruption, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence Acts. The court found Paradza not guilty of two further charges of attempting to defeat the course of justice.

The charges state that in early 2003 Paradza asked two fellow judges to change the bail conditions of a business colleague who was facing murder charges. He wanted the judges to release the business colleague's passport so he could travel abroad.

Unknown to Mr. Paradza, one of the judges alerted the police after the initial approach. The second telephone conversation between the two was recorded by the police and was a major part of the evidence against Paradza.

The court said it found the accused to be an evasive witness who contradicted himself.

Justice Mutambanengwe is a Zimbabwean sitting on the Supreme Court bench of neighboring Namibia. He was chosen to hear the case after Zimbabwe Justice Chinembiri Bhunu declined to preside over the trial of his former comrade in arms during Zimbabwe's war of liberation.

There was an international outcry when Paradza was hauled from his chambers in February 2003 and detained by the police. Some Zimbabwean judges also expressed their concern over the treatment of their colleague.

Various legal organizations charged that Paradza's treatment could have been punishment for his handing down judgments not favorable to the government.

The court will pass sentence Friday. Paradza faces jail or a fine.