Freelance journalist Ish Mafundikwa and deputy news editor Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Daily News, were released on 4th february without charges. Reporters Without Borders welcomed the move in a country where a dozen journalists have been arrested since the beginning of the year. Journalists with the Daily News, Zimbabwe’s only opposition newspaper, are regularly picked up.
Police arrest two journalists and limit access to trial of opposition leader Morgan Tvangirai
Reporters Without Borders called on the government today to allow free media coverage of the trial of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and stressed that justice should be done in public in the presence of independent observers and media, whatever their editorial stand.
"It is unacceptable that the police should deprive the public of their right to be properly informed," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard.
He also called on police to free two journalists arrested at the courthouse and, in line with the request of the High Court’s president, to allow journalists into the court without restriction.
The trial of Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and two of his deputies, opened today before the High Court in Harare. They were charged with treason and could be sentenced to death. The courtroom was barred to most journalists before the hearing began and two of them - freelance Ish Mafundikwa and Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Daily News - were arrested after protesting against the restrictions.
Other journalists, along with diplomats, opposition supporters and independent observers, were also barred by police, who said there was no room inside, though lawyers said there were several empty benches. Later in the day, Justice Paddington Garwe, president of the court, asked police to allow anyone into the court who wanted to attend the trial.