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Judge to rule on Hopewell Chin'ono bail application today

by Staff reporter
20 Nov 2020 at 06:19hrs | Views
The High Court will on Friday determine a bail application by freelance journalist Hopewell Chin'ono following a hearing on Wednesday.

The 47-year-old is accused of attempting to defeat the course of justice over Twitter comments critical about the National Prosecuting Authority.

Justice Tawanda Chitapi said he would deliver his judgement at 11.30AM on Friday after listening to arguments by the journalist's lawyers and the prosecution.

"I propose to write a full judgement. I need time to revise it," said Chitapi.

Chin'ono, who will stand trial in December in a separate case in which he is accused of inciting Zimbabweans to rise up against the government, was denied bail by Harare magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa who ruled he has a "propensity to commit similar offences".

The journalist's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said the magistrate misdirected herself by coming to a conclusion that one pending matter amounts to "propensity" to commit crime.

"This is because it refers to a tendency to behave in a particular way. Once the word propensity is used, it cannot refer to one pending case, there has to be many," said Mtetwa.

She said there is no evidence of propensity because the pending case is about incitement yet the current one is one of defeating course of justice.

She said the investigating officer also admitted under cross-examination in the lower court that the tweet Chin'ono posted does not amount to a criminal offence.

"In the allegations contained in Form 242 there is no mention of the tweet of October 26. So, there is no evidence at all," she said.

She said the magistrate was correct to say the state has onus to prove the allegations without relying on speculations.

"Your Honour, that is all you have before you: speculative likelihood. There is no allegation that the appellant has previous convictions. That makes him a right candidate for bail," added Mtetwa.

She said the current offence is less more serious than the one Chin'ono was charged with before, so there is no motivation for her client to abscond.

"It was the magistrate who crafted compelling reasons by saying the appellant has a proclivity to reoffend; that there is reasonable suspicion that he committed the offence. That was a clear misdirection. We respectfully pray that you release the appellant on current bail conditions. Should you find there should be more conditions, we are bound to abide by the same," the lawyer pleaded.

The prosecution maintained the argument that Chin'ono would likely re-offend if granted bail.

Source - zimlive