3 June 2002
Two journalists to stand trial for writing "falsehoods"
(MISA/IFEX) - On Thursday 30 May 2002, a magistrate's court ruled that Lloyd Mudiwa, a reporter from the private daily newspaper "The Daily News", and Andrew Meldrum, a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper "The Guardian", must be tried on allegations of having written "falsehoods". Both journalists are being charged under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Harare Magistrate Joyce Negonde said Meldrum, a permanent resident of Zimbabwe, would stand trial on 12 June. Mudiwa's trial date is set for 20 June.
The case against Meldrum and Mudiwa originated from a story run in "The Daily News" and "The Guardian" about allegations that vigilante supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party had beheaded a woman. "The Daily News" later apologised to the ruling party after the story proved to be false.
Neither journalist spoke after the 30 May hearing. Their lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said, "We are happy the state has finally set a date and we hope we can prove our case that the state is being vindictive with these prosecutions."
Journalists Mudiwa, Meldrum and Collin Chiwanza were arrested following the publication of an article on 23 April in which "The Daily News" alleged that two young girls had witnessed the beheading of their mother by alleged ZANU-PF supporters in the rural area of Magunje.
On 7 May, a magistrate court in Harare ruled that Mudiwa and Meldrum would have to stand trial. The two journalists were remanded out of custody until 22 May.
In a front-page story on 27 April, "The Daily News" apologised to the ruling party and to the government after it was revealed that the husband of the victim had misled the newspaper.