US scribe seeks refusal of further remand

HARARE - American journalist Martha O’Donovan, facing charges of subversion and insulting former president Robert Mugabe on social media, yesterday slammed the State for infringing on her rights by seeking continuous postponements.

O’Donovan’s lawyer Obey Shava sought refusal of further remand yesterday after prosecutor Tatenda Murindagomo failed to fulfil her undertaking to furnish the Magamba Network Trust Employee with a trial date.

Murindagomo said the State was yet to complete investigations.

“On the previous court hearing, State made an undertaking that if not ready it would remove accused person from remand if not ready with a trial date.

“However, the postponement sought today is on the basis of the same grounds upon which the State sought further remand on the previous attendance,” Shava said.

“The reason that has been cited for further remand is for investigation on something that the State has already done and assured the court of.”

Harare magistrate Josephine Sande ordered that if the State fails to provide a trial date on January 4, O’Donovan would be removed from remand.

The 25-year-old is accused of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government.

She faces a further charge of insulting Mugabe, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

The State alleged that O’Donovan systematically sought to incite political unrest through the expansion and use of sophisticated network on social media platforms as well as running Magamba Network Trust.

She is also being accused of being the face behind accounts on microblogging site Twitter under usernames @matigari and @openparlyzw.

Using username @matigari, O’Donovan is also accused of posting a message which read: “We are being led by a selfish and sick man.”

The message was accompanied by a photo showing that Mugabe is surviving on a catheter, the charge sheet reads.

O’Donovan was granted $1 000 bail by High Court judge Clement Phiri who noted that there were no compelling reasons justifying her denial to freedom by the lower courts.

As part of the bail conditions, O’Donovan was ordered to report to the police twice a week, surrender her passport, not to interfere with witnesses and to reside at the address that she provided to the court, until the finalisation of the case.

Phiri noted that the tweets and the website that O’Donovan is accused of running is continuously churning out information despite the American national having been incarcerated and her laptop and cellphone having been confiscated by the State.