Magistrate to decide whether media two should face Zimbabwe trial

Other News Materials 10 April 2008 23:19 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - A magistrate will on Monday decide whether two South African media workers arrested here last month for allegedly working without accreditation have a case to answer.

Beatrice Mtetwa, lawyer for Sipho Moses Maseko and Abdulla Ismail Gaibbe - working for the South African satellite company GlobeCast South African as technicians - told magistrate Dorris Shongwe that the state had not managed to reveal proper charges for her clients.

According to the state papers, Maseko and Gaibbe were working without accreditation as required by stringent media laws in Zimbabwe. The state also accuses them of observing the March 29 elections without accreditation.

"We want the charges dropped against them, as what the state is saying does not disclose an offence," Mtetwa told the magistrate. Maseko and Gaibbe were arrested on 27 March for broadcasting a press conference given by the minister of information.

Last Friday a magistrate ordered their release after state prosecutors failed to show up for court hearings in the case.

But police later reinstated the charges, adding a count of obstruction of justice. The men have remained free on bail. Maseko was taken to a hospital in Harare on Sunday for treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Meanwhile, New York Times reporter Barry Bearak and a Briton Stephen Bevan, who are facing similar charges, appeared before a magistrate pleading to have their charges dropped. Their case was to continue being heard Friday. Their lawyer Mtetwa arguies that their detention was illegal.