New York, May 21, 2004—Less than 48-hours after being arrested and released, Editor Bornwell Chakaodza and reporter Valentine Maponga, both with the independent weekly The Standard, were re-arrested early this morning.
The two journalists were held at a police station until this afternoon, when they were taken to court for arraignment. They were formally charged with “publishing false statements prejudicial to the State” with the intention of “inciting or promoting public disorder or public violence or endangering public safety” under Section 15 of the draconian Public Order and Security Act.
Chakaodza and Maponga were released on bail of 50,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$10) each later this afternoon.
The charges stemmed from an article Maponga wrote for the May 16 edition of the paper alleging that the family of a mining company executive who was recently murdered blamed senior government officials for plotting the man’s assassination.
Police told the journalists today that they interviewed the relatives of the slain businessman on May 20, and that the victim’s brother, who is quoted in the report, denies having been interviewed by the newspaper.
Chakaodza and Maponga stand by their story.
On May 19, at least six police officers raided The Standard offices looking for Maponga, who was out on assignment, Assistant Editor David Masunda told CPJ. When Maponga returned in the early afternoon, he and Chakaodza were taken to a police station, where they were later released before being arrested again today.
For more information, see CPJ’s May 20 alert: