"I did'nt Do Anything Wrong" – Muchadehama

Harare – Zimbabwe's top rights lawyer who was arrested and released on bail, Alec Muchadehama said he did not do anything wrong and believed that his arrest was consistent with a pattern of government intimidation against human rights defenders.

"My spirits are very high because I know that I didn’t do anything wrong," he told an official of the Committee To Protect Journalists.

Muchadehama who spent the night in a cell at Braeside Police station with eight other prisoners, said he had gone to court to obtain a copy of the bail order in the Manyere case that day, but two police officers accosted him outside the building.

The officers presented no warrant, according to Muchadehama, but told him he was under arrest for allegedly "conniving" with a court clerk to obtain a favorable ruling in the journalist’s case.

Muchadehama categorically denies any improper contact with the clerk in question, Constance Gambara, who was thrown in prison with her nine-month-old daughter on criminal charges of "abuse of office."

The charges are that Muchadehama connived with Gambara for the improper release of photo-journalist Manyere (Andrisson Shadreck) and two other Movement for Democratic Change officials. After their initial release, the three, facing terrorism charges, were re-arrested but have since been released on bail.

Muchadehama’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa deplored an "open season for people in legal profession." She called the month of May "a red month for the legal profession" in Zimbabwe. She was was detained and assaulted by police in May 2007, while fellow lawyer Harrison Nkomo was thrown into prison in May 2008.

Muchadehama recalled spending three days in police custody in May 2006 in connection with a case involving members of the MDC.

The CPJ said it welcomed the good news of Muchadehama’s release.

Muchadehama was granted USd 100 bail as well as reporting to police every Friday pending a trial on May 28.

Irene Petras, director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, deplored a "clampdown on lawyers, particularly those defending people considered by the state to be enemies of the state."