Zimbabwe court orders end to mass grave exhumations

2011-04-08 10:54

Harare – Zimbabwe’s high court has ordered a group aligned with President Robert Mugabe to stop exhuming remains said to be of people killed during the country’s 1970s liberation war, reports said today.

Justice Nicholas Mathonsi said Fallen Heroes Trust, a previously obscure group aligned with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, and all its members must stop the exhumations.

The group was ordered “to forthwith stop conducting or desist from exhuming bodies discovered in a mine shaft in Mount Darwin in Mashonaland Central and anywhere else in Zimbabwe”, Mathonsi said, according to the private daily NewsDay.

The ruling follows an application by veterans of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army, one of the armed groups that waged a guerrilla war against white-minority Rhodesian rule in the 1970s.

Most of their fighters were drawn from the minority Ndebele, say that the grave could contain remains of their supporters, once seen as rivals by Mugabe.

Hundreds of bodies exhumed from a disused mine in Zimbabwe have turned into fodder for President Robert Mugabe’s propaganda, despite the mystery over the skeletons that may have lain for decades.

The Fallen Heroes Trust says 640 bodies have already been removed and thousands more could still lie in the mine near the northern town f Mount Darwin.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s partner in a shaky unity government, said exhumations should include victims of a 1980s army campaign that left 20 000 minority Ndebeles dead in a purge of Zanu-PF rivals.

Mugabe stands accused of using the mass grave as a political tool to remind people of his past as a liberation hero.

Images of the grave have dominated state media since the exhumations began last month, and the site has been used as a campaign stop for his supporters rallying against the western travel ban and asset freeze against Mugabe and his inner circle

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