HARARE (AFP) – The fate of a Zimbabwean high court judge who angered authorities by ordering the release of a prominent rights lawyer will now be decided by President Robert Mugabe, state media said Wednesday.
Citing unnamed sources, the government controlled Herald newspaper said the case of Justice Charles Hungwe will be referred to the president by the head of the high court.
Hungwe has been under fire since his decision last month to order the release of lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who was detained during a police raid on the offices of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The authorities initially ignored Hungwe’s order, although Mtetwa was later freed on bail.
Hungwe is also said to have ordered an investigation of corruption on the part of government ministers from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and to have delayed sentencing of a man convicted for armed robbery and murder after the case file went missing.
The judge was subsequently charged with misconduct in relation to a case he handled 10 years ago.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Law Society of Zimbabwe have described the charges as a ploy to silence Hungwe and instil fear in lawyers and other judicial officers.
According to the Zimbabwean constitution, Mugabe can now order an investigation on Hungwe and appoints a tribunal to hear the case against him.
Judges in Zimbabwe are appointed by the president at the recommendation a the Judicial Services Commission.