Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Taylor's trial signals same could happen to Mugabe

The trial of the former Liberian President Charles Taylor, which opened in a United Nations backed court on Monday, has been the subject of discussion for many Zimbabweans who see the possibility that those who are committing crimes against opposition officials and supporters will one day be brought to justice. And the name Robert Mugabe keeps coming up.

Taylor is accused of directing brutal acts of rape, mutilation and murder and is the first African leader to be put on trial at a U.N.-backed court for war crimes. It is hoped that many others currently in power, plus leaders who will come in the future, will view Taylor’s prosecution as a signal that they cannot escape punishment.

Gabriel Shumba, the South Africa based Zimbabwean activist who is himself a torture victim and has a case pending against Mugabe, said Taylor’s trial is a huge departure from the culture of impunity that has existed in Africa for a long time. He said Robert Mugabe can also be prosecuted for crimes against humanity linked to tragic events such as the demolitions of Operation Murambatsvina and the Gukurahundi deaths that occurred in Matabeleland in the mid 1980s.

But Shumba pointed to the fact that unlike Taylor, Robert Mugabe has the opportunity right now to intimidate possible witnesses because he is still in power in Zimbabwe.....

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