Swazi judge keeps editor in custody

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Mbabane - The editor of The Nation, Bheki Makhubu, and human rights attorney Thulani Maseko have appeared before Swaziland Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.

Justice Ramodibedi took offence at articles the two men wrote for the magazine, criticising his handling of a case.

Makhubu withdrew his bid for bail. Maseko did not apply for bail, on principle. They were remanded until April 1.

Amnesty International described Makhubu and Maseko as “prisoners of conscience”.

Freedom House, a human rights organisation in the United States, said their arrests and detention violated the Swazi constitution, which guaranteed a fair trial and the right to freedom of expression.

Sue Valentine, Africa Programme co-ordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the arrests made a mockery of the constitution.

An Mbabane attorney said: “The constitution is just a piece of paper written by the royal family to silence… criticism.” - Foreign Service

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