A trial in Zimbabwe of a contract reporter working for The New York Times, a case considered as a litmus check of press freedom in the southern African nation, paused on Friday after three days that included testimony by a chief witness for the state, who couldn’t produce the paperwork on the coronary heart of the case.
The reporter, Jeffrey Moyo, 37, has been accused of fabricating accreditation paperwork for two Times journalists, Christina Goldbaum and João Silva, who flew from South Africa to the southwestern Zimbabwe metropolis of Bulawayo final May for a reporting journey.
They had been ordered expelled after a couple of days. Mr. Moyo was arrested and charged a couple of weeks later, and will withstand ten years in jail, a high quality, or each. He has pleaded harmless.
The trial in Bulawayo, which started Wednesday and initially had been anticipated to final 4 days, will resume on Feb. 14. Lawyers for Mr. Moyo attributed the adjournment to procedural delays on the outset of the trial, scheduling conflicts, and longer-than-expected witness testimony and cross-examination.
The protection attorneys have mentioned Mr. Moyo did nothing unsuitable and adopted correct procedures in securing the accreditation paperwork. They have argued that the Zimbabwe authorities don’t have any proof to show the paperwork had been faked — in impact contending that the federal government had ulterior motives for deporting Ms. Goldbaum and Mr. Silva.
Prosecutors acknowledged in court docket papers when Mr. Moyo was granted bail final June that their case was on “shaky ground.”
Further weaknesses in their case emerged early in the trial when prosecutors couldn’t present originals of the paperwork they contend had been fabricated — solely picture photographs. These included a picture of a picture on a cellphone that had been taken on a cellphone belonging to the state’s first witness, Bothwell Nkopilo, an immigration compliance official.
Questions additionally arose from the testimony and cross-examination of Mr. Nkopilo, who mentioned he had visited Ms. Goldbaum and Mr. Silva on May 8 at their resort after having acquired what he described as an nameless tip that they had been engaged in questionable exercise. Both had been then expelled.
But Mr. Nkopilo didn’t inform the police or the Zimbabwe Media Commission, the company accountable for accreditation paperwork. The immigration authorities didn’t seize the paperwork in query.
Asked if he may present the cellphone that contained doc photographs, Mr. Nkopilo mentioned he now not possessed it. Asked if he may present a diary that the immigration authorities had been required to maintain of the May 8 occasions, Mr. Nkopilo mentioned it had been stolen from his automobile.
During the cross-examination by Mr. Moyo’s protection attorneys, Doug Coltart and Beatrice Mtetwa, Mr. Nkopilo asserted he had listening to issues and couldn’t perceive some of the questions, prompting a rebuke from Judge Mark Nzira, a senior justice listening to the case, who mentioned: “I know you can hear.”
Mr. Nkopilo’s testimony appeared to have helped intensify what the protection has known as a serious flaw in the state’s case — the assertion that the accreditation paperwork had been fabricated.
“The theory that was put to the witness,” Mr. Coltart mentioned, “was that the real reason why they deported the two foreign nationals is not because they had fake accreditation cards but precisely because they wanted to prevent them from doing their work as journalists and reporting.”
Mr. Coltart mentioned if the Zimbabwe authorities genuinely had believed the accreditation playing cards had been faked, “they certainly would have seized those cards as evidence of the commission of an offense.”
Mr. Moyo was initially charged with a co-defendant, Thabang Manhika, an official of the Zimbabwe Media Commission. Mr. Manhika furnished the paperwork to Mr. Moyo, who then supplied them to Ms. Goldbaum and Mr. Silva.
The prosecutions had been separated on Tuesday and Mr. Manhika will bear his personal trial later this month.
The Times and the Committee to Protect Journalists have criticized the prosecution of Mr. Moyo as a chilling message from the federal government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the flexibility of journalists to do their work.
Mr. Moyo acquired additional backing this week from the South African National Editors Forum, which had beforehand expressed perception in his innocence.
“We are behind him and do believe, in the end, media freedom would trump,” mentioned the group’s government director, Reggy Moalusi. “We reiterate Moyo is a legitimate journalist and his credentials are above board. His right to practice as a journalist must be upheld and respected by Zimbabwean authorities.”