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ATTORNEY URGENT  ALERT

 

ZIMBABWE

 17 May 2010

 

 Prominent Harare criminal  lawyer

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Jonathan Samkange  

 arrested by police in Harare  

 

He was released in the afternoon.

 

Source :

 

 

 

Harare criminal  lawyer Jonathan Samkange (of Venturas and Samkange) was briefly arrested by police in Harare on Monday 17th May 2010, in a move the outspoken lawyer says is continuing harassment by the police.

 

Jonathan Samkange was summoned to appear in court on allegations of making a false statement under oath in a case . He is accused of having lied under oath after deposing an affidavit at the High Court claiming that his client, Africa Consolidated Resources boss Andrew Noel Cranswick, was arrested for unlawfully possessing diamonds in 2006.

 

The state controlled Herald newspaper reported that the prominent lawyer had 'fled arrest' after a Harare magistrate issued him with a warrant for not appearing in court, to face charges of perjury.

 

Samkange said the report in the Herald was 'false, malicious and defamatory'. He denied running away from the police. He told SW Radio Africa that he was 'accosted' by police officers as he entered the magistrates court around 9am for the court hearing on the perjury charges.

 

His hearing was supposed to start at 8:30, but he says he had called the public prosecutor earlier on to say he was running late and was assured it would be okay. He was also told that court hearings usually failed to start on time. The Harare magistrate issued the warrant at around 8:30am when the lawyer did not show up.

 Samkange, who was clad in a designer suit, arrived at the court around 8:40am and as he was entering the court building, he was greeted by police detectives who were armed with the warrant issued against him.

 

The detectives caught up with Samkange when he stopped to pick up his mobile phones which had dropped to the ground.They whisked him off to Matapi Police Station in Mbare where he was detained.

 

Upon arrival Samkange said he was surprised to be stopped by police who wanted to arrest him for failing to turn up for his court hearing, even though he was already in the courthouse and had only been a few minutes late. He said he started making noise to alert his colleagues in the legal fraternity, that he was about to be arrested.

Samkange shouted at fellow lawyers who were at the court attending to their cases to alert them that he was being arrested."Muchadehama ndavakusungwa (Muchadehama I am being arrested)," shouted the lawyer who had spotted a colleague, Mr Alec Muchadehama, in the crowd. 

 

Samkange was taken to Matapi Police Station in Mbare, and yhen  to Pondo's Minerals Unit.

Samkange was brought to court in the afternoon. The warrant was cancelled after Samkange explained why he was late for court.

 

The perjury case then went to trial and was heard by another magistrate, Mr Archie Wochiunga. Samkange who was the ACR lawyer, Africa Consolidated Resources chief executive Andrew Noel Cranswick filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking to bar police from "arresting and detaining" him on charges he said the State had already dropped. The application which was filed was related to charges stemming from Cranswick's alleged illegal acquisition of diamonds, including 129 000 carats recovered from the company.

 

As a result of the affidavit with that claim, the State alleges, High Court Judge Justice Tedious Karwi then granted an order stopping police from arresting Cranswick on the facts submitted by Samkange. The State alleges that the High Court order was granted on the basis of a false statement and is now charging Samkange with perjury under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for making a false statement under oath.

 

Commenting on his perjury charges, Samkange maintains his client was arrested in 2006 and that the onus is on the police to prove that he wasn't. He also said that the police have a shambolic records system and that 'in court one of the police officers was writing information on toilet tissue'.

 

In his defence outline, Samkange denied that he lied under oath and maintained that his client had at one time been arrested by police.

 

The lawyer said the allegations against him were malicious and defamatory.r Edmore Nyazamba of the Attorney-General's Office led evidence from the first State witness, Senior Assistant Commissioner Silence Pondo, who is the Officer Commanding the Minerals Unit and Border Control.

 

Background.

 

In  May 2007,  Jonathan Samkange was picked up from his Harare home, and taken to Avondale police station where he was later transferred to Rhodesville police station without being told anything. The next morning he was taken to CID headquarters, and later moved to the Attorney General’s Office where he finally got an explanation. Samkange was representing Mann, a former British special forces officer wanted by Equatorial Guinea on allegations of plotting a coup there.

Jonathan Samkange, was arrested for allegedly falsifying information on a visa application for a witness in the case, Duye Chikambo,  a politician from Equatorial Guinea who Samkange intended to call to support Simon Mann’s claiming that if he were to be extradited to Equatorial Guinea he would be tortured. Samkange revealed that Chikambo will not step foot in Zimbabwe because the moment he lands at the airport the Zimbabwean government will deport him to Equatorial Guinea. Chikambo himself spent six months in jail on charges of plotting a coup in the West African country. Samkange said he would have given evidence that was direct because he had been subjected to the torture.

.

Samkange denied the accusations. He was released after the state withdrew charges against him due to lack of evidence. Although it’s been reported that he was accused of violating a section of the Immigration Act prosecutors had indicated to a Magistrate Court they were unable to proceed with the case for lack of evidence against Samkange.  

The Law Society of Zimbabwe  expressed its "utmost disgust" at the unwarranted arrest of a Harare senior legal practitioner Mr Jonathan Samkange as a result of a warrant of arrest issued against him for failure to appear in Court on time.  

 

 

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW

 

Send The IDHAE LETTER TO ADRESSES  BELOW

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW.

MEMBERS ONLY

SEND A LETTER TO :

   President Robert G. Mugabe
   Office of the President
   Munhumutapa Building
   Samora Machel Avenue
   Box 7700 Causeway
   Harare
   Zimbabwe

 

 

 

[Your name here]

 

Your Excellency

 

I would like to express my concern about the situation of  my colleague human rights lawyer and senior legal practitioner Mr Jonathan Samkange arrested on May 17th 2010, as a result of a warrant of arrest issued against him for failure to appear in Court on time.

I am reliably informed that  Mr Samkange was arrested at 8.40 am on his way into court though at that time the arresting officers had not obtained the signed warrant. The police officers took him to Matapi and Harare police stations were they sought to detain him without success thereby denying him his liberty unlawfully and unnecessarily.

 

I understand that    the fact that Mr Samkange was taken to court by the arresting officers at 2.30pm is a clear indication that the police did not arrest Mr Samkange in the furtherance of justice.

The arrest defies any logic as the purpose of the warrant was to bring him to court not to secure detention. This is a clear abuse of power and authority to harass and intimidate lawyers who represent clients of their choice who may happen to be unpopular with police or government.

Lawyers are as of right entitled to execute their professional duties to clients of their own choice without interference.

The detaining of a lawyer for no apparent cause is tantamount to impingement of rule of law and independence of the profession.

 

I call  upon the Police officers to treat Lawyers with due respect and to desist from abusing their office to maliciously persecute and cause vindictive prosecution against lawyers.

In this context, we wish  to draw to your attention the following Articles of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990):

Article 16 states that:

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

The Government of Zimbabwe is under an obligation to ensure that lawyers carry out their professional duties without fear, intimidation, obstruction, harassment, persecution or unwarranted interference.

 

I urge the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the charges against him will be unconditionally and immediately dropped.

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

[Signature]

 

 

 

 

TAKE ACTION NOW !

 

MEMBERS ONLY

 

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY

 

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