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Human rights lawyer Coltart to challenge court placement on remand after arrest

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By TimesLive

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HARARE: Prominent Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Doug Coltart, who was arrested on Friday and charged with fraud, is challenging being placed on remand.

Coltart was arrested at the Harare magistrate’s court, where he was representing journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who is facing charges of defeating the course of justice, according to his lawyers and father, opposition leader David Coltart.

Speaking on the arrest on Friday his father, confirmed his arrest, calling the charges “utterly spurious”.

He said his son was held at the Harare Central police station.

He was released hours later and, after a court appearance on Saturday, placed on remand. He is expected back in court next month.

His lawyer, Chris Mhike told TimesLIVE his client will challenge being placed on remand as the case was remanded to November 29.

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“l do confirm that yesterday (Saturday), Doug Coltart appeared before magistrate Taurai Manuwere at Harare magistrate’s court and he was admitted to free bail or, in other words, released on his own recognisance by the magistrate’s court,” Mhike said.

Harare lawyer Chris Mhike

Mhike said the court didn’t have much time to attend to the case as Saturdays are normally reserved for brief matters.

“The court therefore didn’t have adequate time to deal with Doug Coltart’s challenge to his placement on remand.”

He said it was then agreed between the state and defence that submissions in support of Coltart’s challenge to being placed on remand would be submitted in written form.

“Doug will therefore submit in the coming days his challenge to remand and the state will about a week later respond to that challenge. The case was remanded to November 29 by which time the court would have arrived at a decision regarding Doug Coltart’s challenge to remand.”

Coltart said the arrest was an attempt to intimidate him from doing his work.

“Thank you everyone for your wonderful solidarity in the face of this latest attempt to intimidate me from doing my work as a lawyer. Special thanks to the fantastic legal team and solidarity from fellow lawyers. I’ve been released & will challenge these spurious charges head on,” he tweeted.

In 2019, Coltart was arrested and beaten up during an organised protest by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ).

The teachers’ union was protesting over poor salaries. Coltart was charged with “participating in gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry”.