POLICE BLOCK PROTEST AFTER JOURNALISTS TORTURED
MISA and other IFEX members have reported that Chavunduka was detained by the military on 12 January, two days after "The Standard" published a story about an alleged coup attempt against the government of Robert Mugabe. In jail, Chavunduka was denied access to legal representation, a doctor, family and friends. On 14 January, the Zimbabwean High Court ordered the government to release Chavunduka, arguing that his detention was unlawful, says MISA, noting that the government "refused to abide by the court order, saying civilian courts have no jurisdiction over military camps where Chavunduka was being held." Choto was arrested by police on 19 January, and then turned over to the military for interrogation.
Both journalists were charged under the Law and Order Maintenance Act of 1960 for publishing false reports that were "likely to cause alarm, fear or despondency to the public, or section thereof," punishable with a maximum prison sentence of seven years. They were released on 21 January on bail of Zim$10,000 (US$255) remanded to appear for trial on 22 February. Upon their release, they described the torture to which the military had subjected them. They were beaten with fists, wooden planks and rubber sticks, particularly on the soles of their feet, and given electric shocks all over the body, including the genitals. According to MISA, they were also subjected to the "submarine," whereby their heads are wrapped in plastic bags and then submerged in a water tank until they suffocate.
On 22 January, police detained Clive Wilson, the managing director of "The Standard". Wilson was released unconditionally shortly after the Attorney General refused to prosecute him for what he said was the police's lack of evidence, according to MISA.