The Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
May 7, 2000
By Itayi Viriri
Harare - A high- ranking British police officer has confirmed that British police have
the legal powers to arrest President Robert Mugabe the moment he sets foot on British soil, The Standard has learnt.
The police would, however, require authorisation from the British government to go
ahead with the arrest.
Peter Tatchell, who tried to effect the much publicised citizen's arrest on Mugabe in
London, last October, told The Standard he had met the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, on Tuesday to outline the legal case for arresting Mugabe on charges of torture, under Section 134 of the 1988 Criminal Justice Act of the British law.
Tatchell said his meeting with the commissioner had been friendly and constructive,
with wide ranging agreement on the issues discussed.
Tatchell said: "Sir John Stevens noted that this was a sensitive political issue and was
a matter for the government to decide. He confirmed that legal powers of arrest were available, but that their use would require government authorisation."
Tatchell indicated that he was already in the process of lobbying the relevant authorities for support of his cause.
"I will be working with Amnesty International and the new Metropolitan Police Authority
to press the Attorney-General to sanction President Mugabe's arrest the moment he next sets foot on British soil," he said.
Tatchell, who expected to be elected to the London Assembly which will run the
affairs of the city, also told The Standard that he had faxed a message to Mugabe's office outlining his intentions.
Part of the fax read: "Although my citizen's arrest of you last October failed, the next
attempt will succeed. If you ever return to Britain you will be liable to arrest on charges of torture, not by me, but by the Metropolitan Police."
He said he was confident that the new Mayor, the London Assembly and the
Metropolitan Police Authority would authorise Mugabe's arrest over the massacres in Matabeleland and the torture of journalists, Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto. "This means you will not be able to visit the UK to access your home and assets here without running the risk of arrest, trial and imprisonment," Tatchell said in the fax.
Mugabe has not been to London since the highly embarrassing October incident.
Tatchell ended his message to Mugabe by saying: "The current terror campaign against political opponents of your government leaves you open to further charges of collusion and complicity with acts of torture. Although General Pinochet escaped justice, you will not."
When contacted for comment, the presidential spokesman, George Charamba, said his
office had not received any communication from Tatchell.
Said Charamba: "Why would that man contact this office, he is the last person we will
ever want to communicate with." He said he found the whole issue hilarious, adding, "I am sure the President will also find this amusing."