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Tanzanian Journalist’s Lawyer Presses for Trial, Medical Care

Tanzanian investigative journalist Erick Kabendera arrives at the Kisutu Residents Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Aug. 19, 2019.

Peter Clottey of VOA’s English to Africa service contributed to this report.

A lawyer for Tanzanian investigative journalist Erick Kabendera on Friday asked that he get a speedy trial and medical attention after more than four weeks of incarceration.

Appearing with Kabendera at a hearing in magistrate’s court in Dar es Salaam, attorney Jebra Kambole asked that the journalist’s case be resolved quickly. It was adjourned for the third time until Sept. 12, according to Reuters news service, reportedly because the prosecution’s investigation is continuing.

Kabendera was arrested at his home July 29 over what authorities at the time said were problems with his citizenship. He subsequently was charged with involvement in organized crime, money laundering and tax evasion.

Kabendera is being held at Segerea prison on the city’s outskirts.

Kambole later told VOA, in a phone interview, that he had asked prison authorities to allow the journalist to be taken to a state hospital for treatment of respiratory and leg problems that have developed during his incarceration.

“The last time we sit and talk,” Kambole said, the journalist had experienced faintness and leg numbness. “He cannot walk properly.”

Kabendera has been critical of President John Magufuli’s administration and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in stories for The Guardian, The East African and The Times of London.

On Thursday, ahead of the court hearing, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called for authorities to drop all charges against Kandera.

In a statement, the IFJ cited its concern “that the journalist’s arrest and the confused prosecution based on spurious charges are an attempt to hide what merely is a ruthless retaliation against Kabendera for his reporting.”

After Kabendera’s arrest, the United States and Britain raised concerns about the “steady erosion of due process” in the east African country. Their governments put out a joint statement raising concern about “the irregular handling of the arrest, detention and indictment” of Kabendera.