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South Africa prosecutor withdraws murder charges against striking miners

A South African prosecutor on Monday announced that the government had withdrawn murder charges against 270 miners who were participating in a strike when police officers shot and killed 34 participants. The miners were charged with murder last week under an old South African law that deems the striking miners as complicit [Reuters report] in their co-workers' deaths. Acting national director of prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba said that her office withdrew the murder charges on Sunday, but noted that the charges could be reintroduced if the investigation revealed further evidence. Charges for violence are still being pursued against several of the miners. Police said that they fired on the strike after the crowd began advancing toward them with weapons [BBC report]. The government has said no charges will be filed against the police until an investigation is conducted.

Violence erupted outside the South African Markina mine last Thursday when police officers monitoring a strike opened fire on the crowd [Huffington Post report], killing 34 and wounding 78. The workers had been participating in the strike for over a week, demanding higher pay and better living conditions. While police claim to have been defending themselves during the shooting, some video evidence suggests the protesters were running from tear gas when the shots were fired.

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