Mugabe going to Vatican despite ban
Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe will attend Sunday's beatification ceremony for late pope John Paul II, despite the EU travel ban against him, his spokesperson said.
"He was invited and he will attend," Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba told AFP on Friday, but declined to give details on his travel, citing security concerns.
Mugabe, a Catholic who has been widely condemned for human rights abuses, also attended John Paul II's funeral in 2005 despite the 2002 travel ban - a visit that drew controversy because Britain's Prince Charles shook hands with him.
The Vatican earlier said Mugabe would attend the ceremony. The 87-year-old has been barred from travelling to the European Union for the last decade, under a ban imposed over concerns about vote rigging and human rights abuses.
The Vatican is a sovereign state that is not part of the European Union, although Mugabe would have to transit through the Italian capital of Rome.
Travelling under United Nations auspices, Mugabe also came to Rome in 2008 for a summit of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The ban has done little to stop Mugabe's other globe-trotting. He has made three known trips to Singapore so far this year, for medical checks for himself and his wife Grace.
With his own country's health system in tatters after 31 years of his rule, Mugabe uses doctors in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for his own medical needs.
Grace Mugabe has reportedly dislocated her hip and received treatment in Singapore.
President Mugabe officially had eye checks in Singapore, though British media reported in January that he underwent a prostate operation in Kuala Lumpur - a report the ageing leader dismissed as "naked lies".