Charges against the trustees of the Voice of the People radio station were literally dropped when magistrate William Bhila removed them from further remand.
The prosecution wanted the trustees who included Arnold Tsunga and Isabella Matambanadzo who had travelled from the United States and South Africa, respectively, for the hearing, to be remanded for the fourth time so that it could amend the charges.
Bhila agreed with defence attorney Beatrice Mtetwa that continued delays were a hardship on the defendants.
The trustees were charged with broadcasting without a licence.
VOP broadcast through Radio Netherlands.
Viewing cable 06HARARE1192, VOP UPDATE: COURT DROPS CHARGES
RR RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #1192 2700809
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 270809Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0643
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1325
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1175
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1329
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0086
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0590
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0955
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1383
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3757
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1152
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1800
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1546
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001192
AF/S FOR S. HILL
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2016
SUBJECT: VOP UPDATE: COURT DROPS CHARGES
REF: REFTEL: HARARE 112 AND PREVIOUS
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d
Â¶1. (SBU) At the latest installment of the trial of the Voice
of the People (VOP) trustees for illegally broadcasting
(Reftel for background) on September 25, Magistrate William
Bhila removed the accused from further remand, a move that
essentially drops the charges against the seven defendants.
The state prosecutor asked the court for a fourth delay to
amend the charges to direct the proceedings against the trust
as a legal entity, rather than the individuals. Bhila,
however, agreed with defense attorney Beatrice Mtetwa’s
argument that continued delays were a hardship for the
defendants, including Arnold Tsunga and Isabella
Matambanadzo, who traveled from the U.S. and South Africa,
respectively, to attend the hearing.
Â¶2. (C) While the state’s case against the VOP is dead for
now, the prosecutor’s comments suggest that the case may
resurface at a later date but targeted at the organization,
rather than the individuals. The state’s fumbling of the
charges, however, shows that it never had a strong case
against the trustees and was instead using the trial as a
means of harassment. Meanwhile, even if the state brings
charges against the trust, the impact is likely to be minimal
as VOP has already begun to relocate its offices to South