Legal experts observing events in Zimbabwe over the past few days say the conduct of police and prosecutors indicates a serious breakdown of the rule of law.
Police arrested top officials of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the National Constitutional Assembly on Sunday after blocking a prayer meeting called by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, an opposition umbrella organization. Police have been accused of severely beating their prisoners, including MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai, and failing to bring them to court for timely arraignment.
Observers note apparent police disregard of a court order saying the opposition could hold the March 11 prayer meeting in Highfield, and the later failure by police to heed instructions from the high court regarding the disposition of their prisoners.
Police opened fire on protesters Sunday, killing MDC youth activist Gift Tandare. The use of deadly force by the police represented an escalation in the conflict.
Analysts further say that the use of live ammunition to disperse a defenseless crowd was unconstitutional and therefore illegal.
Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe sought perspective on the breakdown of the legal system from former administrative court judge Michael Majuru and University of Zimbabwe constitutional law lecturer Greg Linington.
Linington said the week's events highlight the disrespect of the administration and the state security apparatus for the judiciary as well as for ordinary citizens.