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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Zimbabwe inquiry into journalists' 'torture'
Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto
Medical reports suggest the journalists were tortured
Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into the alleged torture of two journalists while they were in military detention last year.

The official Ziana news agency said Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay had ordered Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to prosecute "all persons against whom there was reasonable suspicion in the perpetration of such offences".

Editor Mark Chavunduka and chief reporter Ray Choto, both of the independent Standard newspaper, were arrested by the army in January 1999.

They were charged with publishing a report liable to cause "alarm and despondancy", following their reporting of a supposed plot by soldiers to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government.

The journalists say they were tortured by soldiers and secret service personnel while in detention - claims which were supported by an independent medical examination.

Trial postponed

Their trial was postponed until July pending a Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the charge.

Mr Chavunduka and Mr Choto have filed charges against the police commissioner, saying he was slow investigating their complaints that they were tortured while in detention.

After being released on bail, the two were sponsored by Amnesty International to travel to the United Kingdom to be treated for torture-induced stress.

Their bail conditions were relaxed after they returned to Zimbabwe.

They maintain they were tortured by military and secret service personnel while they were in custody.

Independent doctors have said the men bore injuries that suggested they had been tortured.

The Zimbabwe Government has denied the accusations of torture.

The case sparked a constitutional crisis when President Mugabe accused judges of meddling in politics by questioning the government's commitment to the rule of law over its handling of the case.

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27 Jan 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Seeking the truth in Zimbabwe
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