Evan Mawarire freed on bail


HARARE – Cleric and #ThisFlag campaign leader Evan Mawarire was released on $300 bail yesterday after being detained for almost five days on charges of attempting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Mawarire — who had been in self-imposed exile in the United States (US) for six months  — was charged with attempting to overthrow the State via his Internet video campaign that inspired rare protests last year against Mugabe and his government.

He was arrested last week at the Harare International Airport upon his surprise return to Zimbabwe, and remanded in custody until February 17 by a lower court.

Mawarire, who is facing another alternative charge of inciting public violence and insulting the national flag,  appealed to the High Court through his lawyers Harrison Nkomo and Jeremiah Bamu after Harare magistrate Elisha Singano denied him bail last Friday on the basis that he could have committed the offence.

High Court judge Clement Phiri  granted him bail yesterday after finding the objections of the State insufficient to deny him freedom.

As part of the bail conditions, Justice Phiri ordered Mawarire to surrender his passport, report twice to the police on Mondays and Fridays at Avondale Police Station and not to interfere with State witnesses until the finalisation of the matter.

In the appeal, Mawarire argued that he was a suitable candidate for bail.

Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba opposed the bail application, arguing that Mawarire is a “celebrated terrorist” who must not be freed.

Nyazamba said Mawarire has connections outside the country, including the US,

where his wife and children are currently domiciled.

He further said Mawarire instigated civil disobedience which he has vowed to continue propagating through social media.

Nyazamba also said that there was no assurance that Mawarire will not skip bail if released and that under the circumstances, it would be difficult to extradite him, further claiming the State has a strong case and overwhelming evidence against the pastor.

However, the court said it was not believable that Mawarire would abscond considering he came on his own volition through the Harare International Airport, without even disguising himself.

In his court papers, Mawarire said he returned to Zimbabwe after finalising his personal and professional visits abroad, fully aware that the police wanted him.

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