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Zimbabwe Judge Prepares to Sue Government


A Zimbabwe High Court judge whose arrest and detention was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court says he will sue the government.

The judge, Benjamin Paradza, was dragged by police from his chambers last February and hauled to jail on charges of obstructing justice and corruption. He had fought his arrest, detention, and remand in the Supreme Court, and on Tuesday the state conceded he was treated unlawfully. The Supreme Court ruled accordingly.

Mr. Paradza is the first sitting judge in Zimbabwe's history to be arrested and charged with corruption.

The state had alleged Judge Paradza intervened with a colleague at another court to help a business partner recover his passport that had been confiscated pending his prosecution on murder charges. Judge Paradza spent the night in a cell with more than a dozen common criminals before he was released on bail.

The month before his arrest, Judge Paradza angered the government and its supporters by ordering the release of the opposition mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, who had been arrested for holding a political meeting without police permission.

Several Zimbabwean High Court judges took the unprecedented step of signing a petition condemning Mr. Paradza's treatment. They said the procedures for dealing with a judge suspected of having committed a crime is clearly spelled out in the constitution, and it was violated in Mr. Paradza's case.

International legal bodies also criticized the treatment of the judge.

Mr. Paradza's lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, told VOA that the judge intends to sue the police, chief prosecutor, and the Minister of Justice for wrongful arrest and detention.