Chombo denied bail, to be held in custody until trial




Former Zimbabwe finance minister Ignatius Chombo arrives at court to face corruption charges, in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) – Ousted Zimbabwe finance minister Ignatius Chombo, charged with three counts of corruption in offences that allegedly took place two decades ago, was denied bail on Monday and will be detained in custody until his case is heard on Dec 8.

Chombo, who faces charges including trying to defraud the central bank, was detained after the military seized power in “Operation Restore Legacy”, which it said was meant to remove “criminals” around former president Robert Mugabe.

His lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, told reporters that he would appeal the magistrate’s ruling in the High Court on Tuesday.

“We are hopeful that the High Court will show independence,” Madhuku said.

The magistrate who detained Chombo said the former minister could abscond, influence state witnesses or be the target of a mob attack over the allegations that he abused his position.

Chombo, who was appointed finance minister in October, was among members of the G40 political faction allied to Mugabe and his wife, Grace, who were also expelled from the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Two ousted ZANU-PF Youth League leaders, Kudzanai Chipanga and Innocent Hamandishe, who were both allied to G-40, were also ordered to be detained until Dec. 8.

Some supporters of new president Emmerson Mnangagwa have called for unspecified action against G40 but Mnangagwa has urged citizens not to undertake any form of “vengeful retribution”.