HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — On July 12 a judge in Zimbabwe freed on bail a human rights activist jailed for more than five weeks on allegations of passing false information on diamond-mining violations to the international diamond control body.

Judge Mawadze Gurainesu dismissed claims by state prosecutors that activist Farai Maguwu could interfere with witnesses called in police investigations into his conduct.

Bail had been rejected at several previous hearings after prosecutors alleged he gave out false information on rights violations and killings by police and troops in the eastern diamond district.

Human rights groups protested Maguwu’s continued detention since June 3 and said he was denied medical attention and mistreated in jail.

Gurainesu said police did not say when they would finish their investigation. But he said police reported long delays in gathering evidence from officials of the Kimberley Process control body outside Zimbabwe. He said the slow progress of the investigations prejudiced Maguwu. “His liberty should not be trampled upon on flimsy reasons,” the judge said.

Maguwu was freed on $1,500 bail on condition that he surrender his passport, report daily to police and remain within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of his home in the eastern city of Mutare.

He denied charges of possessing false information on killings, torture and the names of perpetrators along with stolen state security documents, offenses carrying a penalty of up to 20 years in jail.

Maguwu’s detention contributed to a deadlock over whether to allow Zimbabwe to sell its diamonds on the world market at a meeting of the Kimberly Process control body in Israel last month.

The oversight body’s regional monitor Abbey Chikane had recommended that Zimbabwe’s diamonds be certified for world sales, as Zimbabwe had met the body’s minimum standards for diamond mining, but the documents allegedly produced by Maguwu and his Center for Research and Development purported to contain hospital records, mortuary reports and burial orders of victims and interviews with survivors who identified “at least eight perpetrators of atrocities,” mostly senior police officers, in the Chiadzwa diamond district.

 

Chengetai Zvauya

Associated Press Writer