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Zimbabwean Journalist Kept Mum on Prison Conditions

A Zimbabwean magistrate ordered prison authorities to unchain a journalist accused of mobilizing anti-government protests, but then ruled that his testimony of poor prison conditions must be heard in private. Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, in jail for about three weeks, is making his third bid to be released on bail. His lawyers have already filed 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. Chin’ono appeared at the magistrates’ court in leg irons for his bail hearing Wednesday, prompting his lawyers to ask for the magistrate’s intervention. The magistrate granted Mtetwa’s 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 more than 100 other government critics who have been arrested in recent months, according to human rights groups. One of them is Jacob Ngarivhume, a politician, whom lawyers said is enduring the same prison conditions as Chin’ono. He has also been denied bail twice and his fresh bail application will be heard Monday.