Zimbabwe's Farai Maguwu acquitted

2010-10-22 12:30

Harare - Prosecutors have dropped charges against Zimbabwean activist Farai Maguwu, who had been accused of endangering national security by exposing rights abuses in diamond fields, his lawyer said Friday.

"The state has withdrawn charges against Farai (Maguwu) before plea," Trust Manda told AFP on Friday.

"There was never a case against him in the first case. He had no case to answer, but the good thing is that the charges have been withdrawn."

Prosecutors brought the charges after Maguwu allegedly wrote and disseminated "classified" documents claiming security services were involved in human rights abuses at the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe.

Maguwu, head of the Marange-based Centre for Research and Development, was arrested in June after a meeting with a representative of the Kimberley Process. The watchdog group was investigating whether Zimbabwe had ended forced labour in the diamond fields.

Maguwu's organisation has regularly provided information about abuses in the eastern Marange mines to the Kimberley Process, which is tasked with preventing the sale of "blood diamonds" on world markets.

Last year, Kimberley investigators documented forced labour, beatings and other abuses by the military against civilians in Marange.

In June, Kimberley said the southern African country had met minimum human rights standards in its diamond fields, after contracting two South African firms to operate the mines.