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Zimbabwe justice minister goes on trial for obstructing justice

[JURIST] Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa's obstruction-of-justice trial began Tuesday, eight days after the charges were tentatively dropped [Financial Gazette report] because of alleged intimidation of magistrates by Security Minister Didymus Mutasa. Chinamasa is accused of pressuring witnesses not to testify about political violence linked to Mutasa before parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] last year. After magistrates in Manicaland recused themselves last week, the attorney general's office subpoenaed Chinamasa to appear in Rusape on Tuesday before a new magistrate. The initial dropping of charges prompted human rights groups to raise concerns about the independence of Zimbabwe's judiciary [Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum press release].

In court on Tuesday, a witness testified that Chinamasa had asked him not to pursue the allegations against Mutasa, a leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party [party website; Wikipedia profile] of President Robert Mugabe [JURIST news archive]. BBC News has more. ZimbabweJournalists.com has local coverage.

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