Zimbabwe activists fined over Arab Spring debate

AFP , Wednesday 21 Mar 2012

Court in Harare fines 6 activists $500 each for meeting to discuss Arab Spring, convicted of 'inciting public violence'

Zimbabwean police enter the the magisrates courts during Munyaradzi Gwisais court verdict in Harare, Monday, March, 19, 2012. Gwisai a human rights activist and five others were found guilty of conspiracy to commit public violence, (Photo: AP).

A Zimbabwean court fined six activists $500 (380 euros) each Wednesday for having discussed the Arab Spring uprisings at a gathering, and ordered them to perform community service.

"Each accused is sentenced to pay a fine of $500 and if they default they will spend 10 months in prison," Harare magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini said as he handed down the sentence.

He also ordered the six to perform 420 hours of community service, failing which they would serve a 12-month suspended jail term.

The six were convicted Monday of inciting public violence.

They were among 45 activists arrested in February last year while watching a video of the protests that toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

They were attending a meeting to discuss lessons to be drawn from the Arab Spring reform movement, but were accused of scheming to overthrow Zimbabwe's long-ruling President Robert Mugabe.

They were initially charged with treason, a charge later changed to plotting mass protests.

Among the group was Munyaradzi Gwisai, a university lecturer and former lawmaker from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party.

The prosecution had sought a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison or a $2,000 (1,500-euro) fine or both, saying the accused had shown no remorse.

Short link: