Daunte Wright: A timeline of Zimbabwean lawyer’s life

Image copyright Twitter / @SianGilchrist

Daunte Wright’s death on Thursday evening after he was shot by police has captured the world’s attention.

The Zimbabwean lawyer who had been detained following the unrest in the city had told the BBC he felt safer with police than without them.

Here is a selection of key events in the life of the 33-year-old …

December 2015

Mr Wright becomes the president of Harare’s Democratic Socialists and advocates for the rights of the oppressed.

May 2017

He becomes interim chair of the Independent Crisis Committee of Zimbabwe.

August 2017

Mr Wright tells the BBC he feels safer with police in the city centre than under “an army-style regime led by Robert Mugabe”.

Harare riots

More than 100,000 Zimbabweans demonstrate on 10 August against high inflation and fuel shortages. Thirty people are shot dead by police.

Mr Wright agrees to meet David Coltart, who was heading the city’s Crisis Coalition, to discuss “how we can alleviate the situation in Zimbabwe”.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Daunte Wright at his arrest and interrogation

September 2017

A court declares Mr Wright’s arrest illegal, after he and a colleague are detained and questioned about recent riots in the city.

November 2017

His colleagues, Mahlumfani Moyo and Gift Mutsvangwa, are detained on cyber crimes and treason charges, believed to have been linked to the riots.

In May, Mr Coltart joins him in receiving police protection after the violence.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Wright has met and been on television with David Coltart

November 2018

Mr Wright and Mr Coltart are invited to an official meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Gweru. The two lawyers are arrested a week later.

News of their arrests reaches the BBC World Service’s Zimbabwe correspondent Jonathan Watts.

December 2018

Members of Harare’s Crisis Coalition are arrested and charged with “attempting to overthrow the lawful government”. Mr Coltart says he expects to be charged with treason, which carries the death penalty.

The two lawyers have appeared in court and are due to plead not guilty to the charges on 24 January. They are also due to be charged with publishing information that compromises national security.

Mr Coltart says he is “shocked” by the severity of the charges, and Mr Wright’s family agrees.

Mr Coltart’s lawyers are opposing the two men’s bail applications, saying their political speeches “jeopardise the safety of the state and its leaders”.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Coltart’s arrest in November sparked mass protests

December 2018

In court, Mr Coltart’s lawyer says their clients are “men of integrity and repute who are not supposed to be arrested”.

They are remanded in custody and taken to the Kuwadzana Maximum Security Prison.

Mr Coltart calls the charges “highly exaggerated”.

This will be the last time Mr Wright’s family see him.

January 2019

Mr Coltart’s bail applications are rejected and his two clients appear in court. Their trial starts the next day.

The two men are remanded in custody for three months.

Mr Coltart and Mr Wright’s families appeal to international law.

March 2019

Mr Coltart’s request for the cases to be heard in open court is rejected.

Mr Coltart says the police have “shown themselves” to be “military-style forces, some of them coming from other parts of the country” and are trying to “simply intimidate and silence us”.

Mr Coltart’s release is ordered by a court on 18 March.

March 2019

Two month later, Mr Coltart is formally charged with public violence, treason and publishing propaganda intended to endanger national security, all of which carry the death penalty.

He denies the charges and a magistrate dismisses all three, ruling that “the evidence the state put forward is not admissible”.

The Zimbabwean government describes Mr Coltart’s release as “tragic”.

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