Top EU court upholds sanctions on former Zimbabwean attorney general

EU sanctions imposed on former Zimbabwean attorney general Johannes Tomana and 120 other individuals and companies were legitimate, the European Union's top court ruled Thursday, dismissing a complaint by those affected.

In 2002, the EU started imposing asset freezes and travel bans on people and entities associated with the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in response to a government crackdown on the opposition and the eviction of white farmers from their land.

Tomana was prohibited from travelling to the EU and had his funds in the bloc frozen from 2012, along with 109 other individuals - including high-ranking officials and security forces. Sanctions were also issued against 11 companies.

The EU accused Tomana of having "engaged in activities that seriously undermine democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law."

But Tomana and the 120 other individuals and companies challenged their blacklisting before the European Court of Justice, arguing that there was no legal basis for the measures and that the EU had not given sufficient reasons.

The Luxembourg court, however, dismissed their appeal on Thursday and upheld the 2012 sanctions. Its ruling cannot be appealed further.

Many of the EU sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have been lifted since 2014, but a handful remain in place against Mugabe and others. Tomana is no longer on the list.

Tomana was appointed Zimbabwe's attorney general in 2008, doubling as the head of government lawyers and the head of prosecutors. He became prosecutor general in 2013, when the country adopted a new constitution and his post was split in two.

However, Tomana was suspended by Mugabe earlier this month to pave way for investigations into allegations of contempt of court.

The Judicial Service Commission recommended the dismissal, claiming Tomana was "no longer suitable" for the post, but independent analysts say the suspension is the result of infighting within the fractured ruling party.

In February, Tomana was arrested for "failing to prosecute" two men over an alleged plot to bomb a dairy farm owned by Mugabe and his wife. He was later released on a 2,000-dollar bail and surrendered surety of property worth 250,000 dollars.

Last update: Thu, 28/07/2016 - 13:12
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