ZIMBABWE: HIGH COURT RULES OUT CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
October 21, 2014: The High Court cannot impose the death penalty on murderers in Zimbabwe until the legislature enacts a law spelling out the circumstances under which one can be hanged, Justice Charles Hungwe has said.
The landmark ruling spared Jonathan Mutsinze of the Jerusalem Church of Marondera the hangman's noose for killing a policeman and a security guard in the course of an armed robbery.
Justice Hungwe said there was no law defining "aggravated circumstances," a condition for one to be hanged.
In the absence of the Act, Justice Hungwe said, the courts cannot impose capital punishment.
He said life imprisonment was appropriate in Mutsinze's case.
Justice Hungwe ruled that the new Constitution under Section 48(2) stated that death penalty could only be imposed on a person who commits murder under "aggravated circumstances" but there was no Act defining the aggravated circumstances or setting out the conditions under which capital punishment can be imposed.
Mutsinze, who had been in remand prison for 10 years awaiting sentence, was finally sentenced after the Constitutional Court dismissed his application for stay of prosecution.
He was convicted of murder with actual intent, which usually attracts the death penalty, but the loophole saved him and he was slapped with a life sentence. (Sources: allafrica.com, 21/10/2014)