Zimbabwean journalist and activist, Hopewell Chin’ono, has declared that he will “sue the State for unlawful detention, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution” after all charges against him were thrown out by the High Court.
The 50-year-old journalist was facing charges of “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state” under Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. However, High Court judge Justice Jesta Charehwa dismissed all the charges against Chin’ono on the basis that he has been charged with a non-existent crime.
Justice Charehwa declared that the law that Chin’ono had been charged under was struck down as unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in 2014.
Based on this ruling, Chin’ono announced that he was suing the state for persecuting him, alleging that had informed all the people involved in his arrest that the law in question was void.
Writing on social media platform Twitter, Chinono said,
I have just finished a meeting with my lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, who got my court case quashed in the High Court because I was charged under a law that doesn’t exist.
I have instructed him to sue the State for unlawful detention, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution!
Chin’ono together with MDC Alliance MP Job Sikhala and MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere were charged over posts made on Twitter. According to the police, the three had falsely claimed that a police officer had struck and killed a baby strapped to his mother’s back with his truncheon. This was after a video of the alleged incident went viral on social media platforms. Chin’ono has also insisted that he never made the tweets in question, arguing that the authorities lied.
The three argued that the crime they had been arrested for was non-existent. They argued that the provision in question had been struck off the books by the Constitutional Court in the case of Chimakure & others v Attorney General (2014).
However, the state had continued with the charges regardless.