Thursday, March 11, 2004

Charges are, apparently, going to be brought against the mercenaries who were apprehended in Zimbabwe, en route to Equatorial Guinea where they planned to stage a coup. According to Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge "[They] are going to face the severest punishment available in our statutes, including capital punishment." But I can't help but wonder what Zimbabwe hopes to charge them with. In Equatorial Guinea, of course, they might be guilty of conspiracy to commit treason, or attempted treason, or something of that sort (presuming that there isn't a problem of jurisdiction, given that they didn't actually enter the state). But in Zimbabwe? As far as I can tell -- and I'm speculating -- they can at most be guilty of crimes such as illegal possession of firearms. Certainly nothing to warrant the death penalty. But, then again, legal niceties are no longer important in Zimbabwe. In Mugabe's ill-fated constitution, rejected in a referendum a few years back, he attempted to create obligations for Britain by including a clause saying that Britain would have to pay for land redistribution! Apparently, he expressed surprise when informed that this would be of no legal effect.

UPDATE: Minister Kembo Mohadi of Zimbabwe has said that the mercenaries will be charged with plotting to "destabilise a sovereign government." I doubt very much whether this is a crime under Zimbabwean statutory or common law. Hopefully this is mere bluster and the Zimbabwean government isn't considering creating a crime to suit their needs.


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