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Zimbabwe: State Drops Election Fraud Charges Against ERC, ZESN Observers

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The State has dropped election fraud charges against 35 members of the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN).

The State was alleging that the 35 attempted to announce last year’s General Elections unlawfully.

They were bundled up on August 23 2023 before their gadgets, in which the State believed harboured much-needed evidence, were confiscated.

The 35 were out on bail and during their routine remand before Harare magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa, prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti announced that they had failed to build a case against the accused.

RELATED: ERC, ZESN unable to verify election results after police raid data centres, confiscate gadgets

“As such the State wishes to announce that it is withdrawing charges against the accused before plea,” he said.

The observers were on stringent reporting conditions which saw them reporting thrice a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at Harare CID Law and Order.

The group was represented by its attorneys Alec Muchadehama, Jeremiah Bamu and Kossam Ncube.

Muchadehama told the court that his clients had 10 complaints against the police adding that it was such a shame there is no complainant in the case against them.

Muchadehama said his clients were being tried in the media saying the police were acting on suggestive comments made on X by a ghost account under the name Tinoedza Zvimwe which has been linked to presidential spokesperson, George Charamba.

Among other things, Muchadehama said his clients were tortured before they were brought to court.

“They were made to lie on their stomachs. Their cellphones, laptops and other gadgets they were using were taken away.

“They held incommunicado. Upon being taken illegally, the police seized each of the accused persons’ cellphones, Asked for the passwords, switched them off and put some on flight mode before they took them away.

“They were not able to communicate with their spouses, relatives, legal practitioners, doctors or anyone else. This is a clear violation of the Constitution which prescribes that an accused person must be able to communicate with the outside world upon arrest,” said Muchadehama.

He also said they were detained in stinky cells full of bugs with no blankets.

Muchadehama said the lawyers have instructions to go after mobile phones and laptops which were seized by the police during the raid.

“We will now go after the seized gadgets which include cellphones and laptops,” he said.

By New Zimbabwe.

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