DEPORTED journalist Andrew Meldrum’s lawyers, Kantor & Immerman have threatened to sue Air Zimbabwe and its employees for knowingly disobeying a High Court order no
t to fly the Guardian correspondent out of the country two weeks ago.
In a letter to the Air Zimbabwe chief executive officer on Wednesday Meldrum’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa gave the corporation up to today (May 30) to provide “cogent reasons” why it had disregarded the court order or face legal proceedings.
She argues that a party who knowingly aids or abets the disobedience of a court order is liable to contempt proceedings.
“It is our client’s intention to bring contempt proceedings against yourselves for the role you played in knowingly and wilfully facilitating what was clearly a planned and coordinated breach of court orders,” she said.
“Unless you therefore revert to us with any cogent reasons why your corporation acted as it did, which reversion must reach us by end of business on 30 May, 2003, we shall proceed with the contempt proceedings.”
Mtetwa also threatened to report Air Zimbabwe to the International Air Transport Association “for whatever action that organisation might deem necessary”.
Mtetwa argued that Air Zimbabwe proceeded to fly Meldrum out of the country despite the fact that a High Court order barring it from doing so had been served on it. She said all precautions had been taken to ensure that a copy of the order was served on the airport manager, a Ms M Simboti who was informed of the consequences of ignoring it.
She said it was later agreed with Air Zimbabwe senior public affairs manager David Mwenga that the order would be communicated to the Air Zimbabwe legal advisor or the CEO.
According to Mtetwa, the order was also served on the check-in clerks who were also advised of the consequences of ignoring the order. The first clerk refused to identify himself or to accept the order. He also denied that Meldrum was on the Air Zimbabwe flight that was scheduled to leave at 21:10hrs that night.
Two other clerks referred the matter to their manager.
Meldrum was, on May 16, seized by immigration officers and police at the immigration offices in Linquenda House and bundled into a waiting vehicle which took him to the airport from where he was later deported.
Meldrum is accused of breaching the terms of his residence permit which he has denied.