The State yesterday accused Lawyer Ms Beatrice Mtetwa of disrespecting the courts by posting issues before it on social media and applied that she be recused from representing activist Hopewell Chin’ono, who is facing charges of inciting the public to participate in July 31 illegal demonstrations.
Ms Whisper Mabhaudhi and Ms Tendai Shonhiwa, representing the State, told Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna that Ms Mtetwa’s actions were tantamount to sub judice.
Chin’ono is being charged with incitement to commit public violence.
Lawyer Mtetwa is alleged to have posted on her Facebook page titled Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law saying:
“Where is the outrage of the international community that Hopewell Chin’ono is being held as a political prisoner?
“His life is in serious peril. Raise awareness about his unlawful imprisonment. Do not let him be forgotten. You or someone you love could be the next one abducted from your home and put in leg irons. SPEAK OUT”.
Chin’ono was then ordered to the witness stand to testify on the State’s allegations where he exonerated his legal counsel saying the accusations were meant to deprive him of a lawyer of his choice.
He told the court that the said Facebook account does not belong to his lawyer but belonged to a documentary and filmmaker he identified as Conway.
Chin’ono also blamed the State for “bringing before the court” evidence without thoroughly investigating it.
Lawyer Gift Mtisi, who is also representing Chin’ono told the court that Ms Mabhaudhi had earlier on approached him asking whether he was in a position to take over from Ms Mtetwa in the event that the court ruled that she renounces her agency.
Magistrate Nduna is expected to make a ruling today when Chin’ono is also expected to make his fresh bail application on changed circumstances.
Last week, the High Court threw out his bail appeal saying the trial magistrate’s decision was properly made when Chin’ono was initially denied bail.
In denying him bail Mr Nduna noted that he had shown some defiance in the face of the State, which was calling for the banning of protests.
Justice Tawanda Chitapi in his decision to deny Chin’ono bail said:
“In disposing of the matter, I determine that the appellant (Chin’ono) has failed to demonstrate any misdirection of fact, law or both made by the learned magistrate in the court a quo (lower court) as would justify interference with his judgment.
“In consequence therefore, the order I make is as follows . . . the appeal be and it is hereby dismissed.”
Justice Chitapi said releasing Chin’ono might enable him to continue with his campaign as there was no condition discernible capable of restraining him if he granted bail.