Accessibility links

Zimbabwe Diamond Investigator Loses Bail Appeal

Farai Maguwu, who has been investigating human rights abuses in Zimbabwe diamond fields, was denied bail again Monday when the Harare High Court said the charges he faces are serious.

Harare High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu said in court Monday he agreed with last week's ruling from a lower court and that police need to be given more time to investigate Maguwu's alleged crime. The attorney-general's office accuses him of publishing false information detrimental to his country.

Maguwu, arrested 3 Jun, denies charges of possessing false information on killings, torture and the names of perpetrators, along with stolen state security documents. These offenses carry a penalty of up to 20 years in jail.

Maguwu was arrested days after meeting with the Kimberley Process special diamond monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, a South African. Chikane reported to the authorities that Maguwu had given him a stolen top secret Zimbabwe government document that allegedly details military activities in the controversial diamond fields, in the Marange area of southeastern Zimbabwe.

Maguwu's lawyer, Tino Bere, said Monday his client was not in good health. He said has not been allowed blankets in a freezing police cell, and has developed serious chest and throat infections. A court allowed Maguwu to be admitted to a private Harare hospital, where he had an operation on his throat. Bere said a prison doctor visited Maguwu in hospital Monday and his client is now being moved to Zimbabwe's prison hospital for post operative care.

"In respect of Farai's condition, I saw him a short while ago, his neck is swollen today and his throat is swollen and he says he is in a great deal of pain and he looks visibly puffed up and in some pain," said Bere.

Bere said a private doctor attending Maguwu had sanctioned the transfer.

As Maguwu's bail application was being heard in court in Harare, the Kimberley Process was meeting in Tel Aviv. High on its agenda is Chikane's report on Zimbabwe.

According to Zimbabwe's mines minister Obert Mpofu, Chikane will tell the Tel Aviv meeting that Zimbabwe has largely complied with Kimberley Process regulations and should be allowed to export its diamonds.

Human Rights Watch, which also is at the Tel Aviv meeting, said Zimbabwe's mines should be suspended from the Kimberley Process because of serious human rights violations against informal miners in the diamond fields.

It says the rough stones, mined in eastern Zimbabwe, should be labeled blood diamonds.

Chikane said in his report that the Zimbabwe National Army, which is accused by Maguwu and other human rights organizations of killing some miners, should remain until the vast area is properly secured.

The meeting in Tel Aviv ends Wednesday.