By Tendai Rupapa
The Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, investigations editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Tinashe Farawo, accused of communicating or publishing false statements prejudicial to the State, were yesterday further remanded to December 17.
The prosecutor, Mrs Idah Mateke-Maromo, told the court that the docket was not yet complete since investigations were still ongoing, resulting in magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe remanding them.
On their initial appearance in court, Sasa, Chitemba and Farawo were granted $100 bail each by Mr Mahwe after he ruled that it was a mockery of the judicial system to deny them bail.
As per court procedure, Mr Mahwe did not give the trio’s defence council, Advocate Farayi Mahere the opportunity to respond to bail opposition, saying he could not be made to react to nothing.
“State has struggled to justify their denying of bail,” said Mr Mahwe. “According to the new Constitution, bail is now a right. No compelling reasons have been forwarded by the State for the court to deny the accused bail.
“State is required to give substantive submissions and not to make bald averments. That the accused are a flight risk is mere speculation not supported by any fact or previous convictions.
“To deny the accused bail will make a mockery of the judicial system. Serious matters come here and are given consent bail.”
As part of their bail conditions, Sasa, Chitemba and Farawo were ordered not to interfere with witnesses or investigations, report every Friday at Law and Order Section and to reside at their given addresses.
The State alleged that following the recent killing of 22 elephants by poachers using suspected cyanide poison, the trio published a story headlined, “Top cop fingered in poaching saga”.
It is alleged that the trio knew that no Assistant Commissioner of the police was being investigated for being involved in the poaching of the elephants nor had the police made any arrest in connection with the crime.
As a result, the publication of the alleged false statement was communicated nationally and internationally, causing an outcry from the international community who support the tourism industry.
The trio is accused of publishing falsehoods that would adversely affect the tourism industry and the economy. The Herald