ANZ lawyer miffed by delays in Khalfan case

HARARE - The defence lawyer for Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), Alec Muchadehama, has expressed his disappointment with the manner in which the criminal defamation case of the company’s Group Editor, Stanley Gama, and senior writer, Fungi Kwaramba, is being handled by police.

The two journalists have appeared in court for two days in a row without any progress in the matter in which they have been charged under the country’s draconian criminal defamation law, following a report filed by controversial businessman, Kamal Khalfan, over stories linking the Omani citizen to alleged underhand deals in Zimbabwe.

“We had again come to court today (Thursday) as directed by the police, intending to appear in court, but the police did not turn up at court, advising that they have been having meetings with the officers from the prosecutor general’s office. They were expected to be at court at 11 am,” Muchadehama said yesterday.

He said this was a disappointing development, considering that they were appearing at court for the second day and the fact that nothing had happened on both days.

“It appears we are now being taken round and round with no direction as to where the matter is going,” he added.

The two were arrested on Monday and spent three hours at Highlands Police Station where they were made to sign warned and cautioned statements before being released.

They later appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court, where the matter was referred to prosecutor general Johannes Tomana for consideration, before being asked to appear again at court yesterday.

Khalfan, who owns Catercraft among other businesses, has also sued the Daily News for a whopping $10 million in a civil lawsuit before the country’s High Court.

This has brought under the spotlight the controversial and draconian criminal defamation law which some sections of government say should be scrapped as it infringes on human rights.

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister, Jonathan Moyo as well as other several law experts lambasted powerful and well-connected individuals who use the police to arrest journalists in cases which, he says, should be resolved at the civil courts.

Moyo said criminal defamation was not only outdated and incompatible with the values and ideals of the liberation struggle with respect to human rights and freedoms, but also inconsistent with the country’s new Constitution.

With the law still in place, Khalfan — who holds a British passport and is the honorary counsel of the Sultan of Oman — accuses Gama, Kwaramba and ANZ of having published material when there was “real risk or possibility that it might be false in material” thereby risking causing “serious harm to his reputation.

The Daily News denies the allegations and is defending the action.

The paper’s lawyer Muchadehama said the stories in question were published from a credible source and, were also published in the public interest — adding that at any rate, “the complainant has already sued the Daily News for the same matter in the High Court of Zimbabwe”.

In January, the Daily News carried stories on how businessmen such as Khalfan were using their influence and political connectivity to introduce investors to President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe himself recently revealed that a minister and a Member of Parliament had demanded a $70 000 bribe from foreign investors to introduce them to him.

Zimbabwe is awash with businessmen or fixers who arrange meetings with politicians and stitch deals together for multi-million dollar fees.

In the contested e-mails seen by the Daily News, a German national, Dietrich Herzog, requests that Khalfan — who claims in the e-mails to be politically-connected — assist him to acquire diamonds from top government officials using opaque methods.

Khalfan confirmed knowledge of Dietrich and the e-mails at the time that the Daily News wrote the stories.

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Comments (3)

Kamal khalfan is the main reason for all the corruption in Zimbabwe the government should get red of him and they should start to don't support him any more, he is abusing to the sultanate of oman and he is going to be in the gail very soon

Ahmed - 11 April 2014

all over the world you can not the president for mahala

harare - 12 April 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGE - 14 April 2014

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