Harare – A Zimbabwe magistrate on Wednesday ordered prison authorities to unchain a journalist accused of mobilizing anti-government protests, but then rules that testimony of poor prison conditions must be heard in private.
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, in jail for about three weeks, was making his third bid to be released on bail.
Chin’ono’s lawyers have already failed a separate court application asking prison authorities to stop the “blatant and malicious stripping away” of his rights, including being chained and being denied adequate food and warm clothing.
He appeared at the magistrates’ court in leg irons for his bail hearing Wednesday, prompting his lawyers to ask for the magistrate’s intervention.
“It is an anathema to any justice system to have someone in chains being tried, what sort of justice will that be?” said Chin’ono’s lawyer Bbeatrice Mtetwa.
The magistrate granted the request to remove the leg irons.
As part of his appeal to be released on bail, Chin’ono is expected to tell the court of the harsh conditions he has experienced in jail.
Chin’ono is among over 100 other government critics who have been arrested in recent months, according to human rights groups.