Charges of inciting violent anti-government protests levelled against journalist and government critic Hopewell Chin’ono have been dropped by a Zimbabwe court.
Chin’ono has been critical of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s governance, accusing his government of corruption and mismanagement.
The outspoken award-winning journalist, who has a large social media following, was arrested in July last year and held for several weeks in prison for tweeting in support of planned anti-government protests later that month.
Two tweets landed him back in jail in November and January, for allegedly obstructing justice and publishing false information.
A high court in the capital Harare on Monday said prosecutors had failed to specify how a series of tweets constituted an offence, citing inexact wording in the charge sheet.
It was “a vital requirement of the justice system that a charge must be framed in a way that does not leave an accused person guessing as to what offence they are alleged to have committed and how it was committed,” ruled judge Siyabona Musithu..
“The evident contradiction between the charge sheet and the state outline vitiates the charge sheet and renders it a nullity,” the judge added.
He has been freed on bail and banned from using his Twitter account to post anything that might “incite the public to revolt against the government”.
“It means my arrest was and my cases were trumped up as I have always argued!” Chin’ono tweeted after the ruling.
“I spent the past 15 months in jails and courts for something that I didn’t do! It was cruel and tragic!”
He still faces trial for alleged obstruction of public justice for posting a Tweet before a judicial decision in November, 2020.