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Zimbabwe court delays trial of farmer who ignored state eviction order

[JURIST] The first trial in Zimbabwe involving a white farmer defending his refusal to obey a state-sponsored eviction order was postponed Wednesday until December 17 after prosecutors admitted to the court that they had failed to turn relevant papers and information over to the defendant. The defendant, John Norman Eastwood, had requested in pre-trial motions that the state identify the criteria used to select his farm for seizure, a list of the government officials who made the decision, and the minutes from that meeting, none of which were made available. Earlier in October, a Zimbabwe judge denied a motion [JURIST report] brought by Eastwood and 10 other white farmers to have the eviction notices thrown out, and instead ordered the men to stand trial for failing to vacate their property by the notices' September 30 deadline [VOA report].

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has been harshly criticized [Guardian article] for his farm seizure program [JURIST article] which seeks to redistribute white-owned land among the nation's native farmers. In February 2006, the Zimbabwe land minister said that, following controversial constitutional reforms [JURIST report] that took effect in 2005, there are no longer any white farmers operating legally in Zimbabwe [JURIST report]. The government has appropriated some 4,000 farms through the program and many attribute Zimbabwe's inflation rate, which is reportedly exceeding 5,000 percent, to these actions as previously productive farms have become barren under new inexperienced owners. AFP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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