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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 14:10 GMT
Tortured Zimbabwe journalist dies
Ray Choto (c) and Mark Chavunduka (r)
Chavunduka (in sunglasses) is survived by a wife and three children
Mark Chavunduka, 37, a journalist who was tortured by Zimbabwe's army for writing about an alleged coup plot, has died in Harare.

The cause of death has not been made public but it is not thought to have been caused by the torture.


He will be remembered for standing up to this regime

Trevor Ncube Zimbabwe Standard
Mr Chavunduka and his colleague, Ray Choto, were both held captive by the army for several days in 1999 despite court orders for their release.

Mr Chavunduka was editor of the Zimbabwe Standard newspaper, which published a story written by Mr Choto, that sections of the army had plotted to oust President Robert Mugabe.

Following his release, he received treatment for post traumatic stress disorder in both Britain and the United States.

He often complained of nightmares following the beatings and electric shocks he received during his detention by the military.

Champion

Trevor Ncube, publisher of the Standard, praised Mr Chavunduka as a champion of press freedom against Mr Mugabe's government.

"He will be remembered for standing up to this regime," he said.

President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe warned journalists to leave the army alone

Correspondents say they were the first victims of a campaign against independent journalists by the Zimbabwe authorities.

Mr Mugabe refused to condemn the journalists' torture, instead warning writers not to antagonise the army.

In January 2001, the printing press of the privately-owned Daily News was bombed after being criticised by cabinet ministers and government allies.

A new media law was introduced after Mr Mugabe's controversial re-election earlier this year, which independent journalists say is designed to stop them from publishing stories which the government does not approve of.

The authorities have refused to prosecute those identified by Mr Chavunduka as responsible for the torture.

Both Mr Chavunduka and Mr Choto received several journalism awards.

He is survived by his wife and three children.


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