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Zimbabwe court halts exhumations

Associated Press / April 9, 2011

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HARARE, Zimbabwe — A court ordered militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe to stop exhuming hundreds of skeletons they say were the victims of colonial-era massacres, a project that critics say is stoking racial hatred in Zimbabwe.

The High Court in Bulawayo ruled that the group must immediately cease digging out human remains from an old mine shaft where officials have bused schoolchildren to view the remains as militants denounced whites and sang revolutionary songs.

Thursday’s ruling said some former guerrillas from the independence war had demanded a halt to exhumations that were not being carried out by specialists. Government ministers in charge of police and security must enforce the order.

Judge Nicholas Mathonsi said the exhumations violated all international protocols on investigating suspected human rights violations and amounted to “interference or tampering with crime scenes.’’

Mugabe’s loyalists say the mass graves show how the country’s former rulers were guilty of human rights violations far outweighing any accusations against Mugabe’s supporters.

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