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Saturday, 6 October, 2001, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Judge condemns Zimbabwe 'terror'
Supporters of President Mugabe at a rally in Kadoma, Zimbabwe
Zanu PF members are accused of violence and corruption
A former Zimbabwe High Court judge has accused the government of promoting a campaign of terror and said increasing lawlessness forced him to quit.

Justice Michael Gillespie outlined reasons for his resignation in a review of a criminal case published in Harare on Saturday, weeks after he left the capital to live in England.

In his review of a light sentence handed down to two men convicted of extortion during a wave of so-called company invasions by militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, Mr Gillespie accused the government of intimidating the judiciary and putting its supporters above the law.

Growing lawlessness

The company invasions followed the widescale and often violent occupation of white-owned farms by Zanu-PF supporters in support of Mr Mugabe's land redistribution programme.

Mr Gillespie said the men had extorted money from a Harare company in the name of the Zanu-PF, a party which he said was "believed to be controlling similar acts of violence and intimidation throughout the country".

The two men, Mr Gillespie said, "are among those who have sought to take advantage of the increasing breakdown of the rule of law engineered by the executive".

"Your behaviour was a symptom of the breakdown to mob rule... which is the inevitable consequence when the government of the day, by its actions, no matter what words it uses, effectively renounces its commitment to the rule of law."

Zimbabwe's former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay
Gubbay was forced into retirement
Mr Gillespie also said the forced retirement of the country's Chief Justice, Anthony Gubbay, this year, together with the prosecution of government opponents, packing Superior Court benches with government supporters and manipulating the court rolls had forced him to resign.

"I have also reached the conclusion that for as long as there prevails the conditions such as I have described in this judgment, I cannot continue to act as an effective and independent member of this bench," he said.

Statement 'disgusting'

The government dismissed Mr Gillespie's charges as "racist rubbish" and said his resignation was "good riddance to bad rubbish".

Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the statement was "disgusting".

"Any judge who makes such pertinently political and racist statements which have nothing to do with the case before him is not worth the honour and dignity of the office," he said.

See also:

26 Sep 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe land talks 'fail'
26 Sep 01 | Africa
IMF cuts all funding to Zimbabwe
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