HIGH Court Judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba on Wednesday 29 November 2017 discharged and acquitted Pastor Evan Mawarire, the leader of His Generation Church, who had been on trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow former President Robert Mugabe from power through unconstitutional means.
Pastor Mawarire had been on trial since 25 September 2017 after he was first arrested in July 2016 and later on in January 2017 and charged with two counts of subverting constitutional government as defined in section 22 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23 or alternatively incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187 (1) (a) as read with Section 36 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.
During trial, the state claimed that Pastor Mawarire, who pleaded not guilty to charges of subverting constitutional government and of incitement to commit public violence, incited Zimbabweans from “all walks of life” to revolt and overthrow a constitutionally elected government.
But Justice Chigumba on Wednesday 29 November 2017 set Pastor Mawarire free after discharging him at the close of the state case and found him not guilty and acquitted him on the two main charges of subverting a constitutional government and the two alternative charges of incitement to commit public violence.
In a 17-page judgment, Justice Chigumba ruled that Pastor Mawarire, who was represented by Harrison Nkomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights exercised his constitutionally guaranteed rights and did not exceed the limitation on those fundamental rights and that his criticism of the government policies is permissible in terms of the Constitution.
The High Court Judge stated that the state failed to prove all the essential elements of the main and alternative charge and the witness testimonies fell short of establishing evidence on which a reasonable court, acting carefully might properly convict.
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