A magistrates’ court in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare on Friday remanded political activist and pastor Evan Mawarire in custody for the next two weeks after his arrest on Wednesday.
Pastor Mawarire was remanded until February 17 to allow for further investigation into charges including subversion, plot to remove a constitutionally-elected government and newly added abuse of the national flag and inciting public violence charges.
“The facts so far placed before the court do not establish a case for Mawarire to be placed on remand … Mawarire is opposed to be placed on remand,” local media News Day quoted Mawarire’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo who said his client will apply for bail on Monday.
Nkomo also told the magistrate Elisha Singano that Mawarire has complaints against the police who violated his constitutional rights and abused authority.
The facts so far placed before the court do not establish a case for Mawarire to be placed on remand … Mawarire is opposed to be placed on remand.
The judge however advised that they seek redress from the high court, News Day reported.
Evan Mawarire started the #ThisFlag campaign in protest against Mugabe’s government to seek a solution to the economic crisis affecting all spheres of the nation.
Mawarire was arrested at the Harare International Airport on arrival from the United States where he has been living for six months after narrowly escaping jail term in July 2016 for charges including an attempt to overthrow President Robert Mugabe’s government.
He is known for carrying the Zimbabwean flag to represent his campaign and extensively using social media to relay his message.
The Zimbabwean government later warned against “infringing” on the national flag and using social media to “incite public violence”.
“The facts before the courts do not show an offence to have been committed by Mawarire. The process being undertaken by the state is abuse of authority as Mawarire’s actions do not constitute an attempt to remove a constitutionally elected government as required by section 22(2) of the Constitution,” his lawyer insisted.
Human rights groups have also called for his immediate and unconditional release.
Amnesty International has said in a statement that Mawarire has “committed no crime but to take a stand against human rights violations”.
They described his arrest as politically motivated and designed to intimidate and harass him.
The Human Rights Watch also described the charges against him as a sham.
If found guilty of subverting a constitutional government, Pastor Evan Mawarire faces 20 years in prison.