Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Zimbabwe journalists detained over elephant poaching story

HARARE: Zimbabwean police have arrested journalists at a state newspaper over a story implicating police officers and parks authorities in the poisoning of at least 60 elephants, a media complaints watchdog said Tuesday.

“We confirm the arrest of three journalists and we condemn the arrest,” Loughty Dube, director of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) told AFP. “It’s barbaric in a democracy. It infringes on the constitution which provides for freedom of expression.”

Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, the paper’s investigations editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Tinashe Farawo were detained at Harare Central Police Station, Dube said. Police said they would issue a statement at a media briefing. 

According to The Herald, police denied such an investigation was under way. The Herald said the trio were accused of publishing falsehoods following a story in this week’s edition of The Sunday Mail.

The report said a police assistant commissioner, rangers in the parks and wildlife department, an Asian businessman and several junior officers were being investigated for the poisoning of at least 60 elephants in separate incidents.

Dube said the story did not warrant the journalists’ arrest. “The police should simply have asked for a retraction, issued a statement with the correct position or registered their complaint through VMCZ,” Dube said.

Scores of elephants have died from poisoning by suspected poachers near Zimbabwe’s main game reserve and near the border with Botswana in recent months. Some of the carcasses were found without tusks.

Some officers from the parks department have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Source: Zimbabwe journalists detained over elephant poaching story (3/11/15)

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