State stays Muchadehama prosecution

HARARE - The Prosecutor General’s office has withdrawn its Constitutional Court bid, challenging a Supreme Court order barring it from contesting the acquittal of prominent Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama.

Muchadehama was jointly charged with High Court clerk Constance Gambara on contempt of court charges. 

They were accused of facilitating the release of three suspects, but they were acquitted at the close of the State’s case.

Chris Mutangadura, the chief law officer, yesterday told the full Constitutional Court bench that he was withdrawing the application.

“I wish to formally withdraw this Constitutional Court application,” Mutangadura said.

Muchadehama and Gambara were cleared of the charges in 2009, forcing the Prosecutor General to file an application for leave to appeal at the High Court. The application was dismissed on the basis that it had no prospects of success.

The Prosecutor General’s office then filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, seeking an extension of time within which to appeal against the High Court decision. The Supreme Court said the Prosecutor General had no right to appeal under the circumstances.

During trial, the magistrate found at the close of the State’s case that there was no incriminating evidence that had been adduced in court nailing the two.

The State had alleged that the two acted in connivance and unlawfully caused the release of three suspects on bail, with knowledge of a High Court order prohibiting the suspects’ release.

It was alleged that the two had intentionally impaired the “dignity, reputation or authority of the court”.

The court heard that Muchadehama was representing the suspects who were granted bail in 2009, before the State invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, leading to the nullification of the bail that had been granted.

The section suspends a bail order issued by a court for seven days to allow the State time to contest the decision.

The State alleged that after Muchadehama noticed that the State had not filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court, he approached the office of the registrar, asking that an order admitting the suspects to bail be prepared, leading to the release of the suspects.

Beatrice Mtetwa represented Muchadehama.

 

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