By Fungai Jachi
A National Prosecuting Authority law officer, Henry Muringani has been charged with criminal abuse of office for allegedly facilitating the release of an armed robber through unlawful means.
Muringani, a principal public prosecutor with the NPA, allegedly prepared and facilitated bail application for an armed robbery suspect, Tatenda Tawanda Mutengo resulting in the court releasing him on two occasions.
Muringani is facing charges of criminal abuse of office and alternatively defeating the course of justice.
It is the State’s case that on the 20th of December last year, the accused who was on the run for armed robbery was arrested by detectives from CID Homicide.
Upon arrest, Mutengo was found in possession of a firearm and ammunition before he was taken court on the following day where he was advised to apply for bail at the High Court.
On the 17th of January this year, Mutengo applied for bail at the High Court and his application was dismissed.
The court heard that Mutengo, while in remand prison heard that there was someone from the NPA, who was assisting suspects facing armed robbery and other serious crimes to get bail.
It is further alleged that Mutengo contacted Muringai with the assistance of his uncle who had visited him at Chikurubi Maximum prison.
Muringani allegedly promised the accused’s uncle that his nephew would be freed on bail and demanded US$500 facilitation fees and the money was paid in instalments.
It is alleged that Muringani altered the armed robbery charge to attempted murder before Mutengo appeared at the High Court, using papers that had been prepared by Muringani.
The accused allegedly went on to defended his bail application using the altered documents and was released on $5 000 bail.
It however emerged that the other document relating to the armed robbery charge was not captured on the bail release order resulting in him failing to be released from prison.
On the 17th of February, Muringani allegedly facilitated another bail application using an additional altered document bearing rape charges.
He allegedly charged US$200 facilitation fees.
The court heard that on February 20 Muringani met the accused’s uncle and gave him bail application papers before Mutengo applied for bail on February 23 and was released on $10 000 bail.
Detectives got wind of Muringani’s shenanigans and he was arrested on February 26.
Muringani is not the first state prosecutor to be arrested on corruption charges after Tapiwa Kasema and Arthur Bosha, who allegedly helped members of notorious armed robbers led by Musa Taj Abdul to be granted bail also appeared in court on allegations of graft.
In January this year, two state prosecutors based in Karoi appeared in court for allegedly accepting bribes from accused persons in exchange for lenient sentences.