/ 12 July 2010

Zim diamond activist wins bail

A Zimbabwean high court on Monday released a rights activist charged with endangering Zimbabwe’s economic interests by highlighting abuses at diamond mines.

High court judge Mawadze Gurainesu said the prosecution had failed to give good reason on why Farai Maguwu, director of Centre for Research and Development, should be denied bail.

“In my view the charges are very simple, clear and straightforward,” the judge said.

“They involve publication of falsehoods prejudicial to state.

The presumption of innocence operates in favour of the appellant, in other words grounds for refusal of bail should be substantiated.”

Maguwu was arrested last month after meeting with a representative of the Kimberley Process watchdog assigned to investigate whether Zimbabwe had stopped the military from forcing villagers into working in the diamond fields.

Gurainesu said Maguwu should deposit $1 500 with the clerk of court and ordered him not to travel beyond a 40km radius of his home.

The judge said Maguwu should not be made to pay for the slowness of the police investigation.

“Even at this late hour this court is not sure when the investigations would be completed,” he said.

The issue of Zimbabwe’s diamonds is set to dominate the Kimberley Process meeting scheduled for Russia this week after last month’s meeting in Tel Aviv failed to reach a consensus.

Currently Zimbabwe has 4,5-million carats of diamonds in its stocks, awaiting the Kimberly decision.

The Kimberley Process gathers governments, industry and civil society to stem the flow of “blood diamonds” used to finance wars. –Sapa-AFP