Strange moves as Mukoko group set to sue top Zim officials

2009-10-13 11:57

The decision by the Attorney General’s office to renounce agency on behalf of defendants in the Jestina Mukoko lawsuit may be a government ploy to avoid paying the US$500-million that Mukoko and eight others are suing for in their wrongful arrest, abduction and torture case, says a source in the AG’s office.

In a shock move last Friday, the AG’s office formally advised the High Court that it would not represent all defendants in the case and would not be involved in any way.

Mukoko and eight others have been cleared by the Supreme Court to sue for damages.

The source at the AG’s office said the decision was arrived at by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and AG Johannes Tomana last week as a way of “thwarting and ducking” Mukoko’s big lawsuit.

“You see, if defendants are sued in their individual capacities no court would grant such huge damages. But if the state was shouldering the responsibility then you could get a situation where state assets are attached to settle the suit.
“The people who committed these crimes did so in the name of the state but the state is now strangely distancing itself,” said the source.

Defendants in the case include top government officials like State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the two Home Affairs Ministers Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa.

Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and the AG, Tomana, are also being sued, with top police officers and state agents who took part in last year’s abduction of the human rights and political activists.

Mukoko’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, has said the case is now a private matter between his clients and the defendants and that his clients had been cleared to sue the ministers and senior security officials in their individual capacities following the AG’s decision to withdraw legal support for the defendants.

The notice filed with the High Court by the AG’s office last Friday reads: “Be pleased to take notice that the Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s office do hereby renounce agency on behalf of all the defendants.”

Deputy AG Prince Machaya confirmed at the weekend that the state would not offer legal representation to government officials being sued by Mukoko and eight others.

The Supreme Court last month dropped terrorism charges against Mukoko and ruled that she had been wrongfully arrested, illegally detained and tortured by state agents.

The ruling cleared the way for Mukoko and other victims to sue.

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