Journos slam Zim first lady

A journalists' organisation said yesterday it protested to Zimbabwe's ambassador to China over an alleged assault by the wife of president Robert Mugabe on a Hong Kong photographer.

A journalists' organisation said yesterday it protested to Zimbabwe's ambassador to China over an alleged assault by the wife of president Robert Mugabe on a Hong Kong photographer.

Richard Jones, 42, chief photographer of the Sinopix photo agency, suffered cuts and bruises in the alleged attack 10 days ago in which he claimed he was repeatedly punched by Grace Mugabe.

Jones had been photographing Mugabe while she was on a shopping trip in Hong Kong where her daughter Bona is a student.

Police are investigating the alleged assault which reportedly took place outside a shopping centre.

Welshman Jones was taking photographs on commission for the Sunday Times newspaper in London when he claimed he was confronted first by a bodyguard and then by Mugabe herself after taking photographs of her in the street.

In a letter to Zimbabwe ambassador Frederick Shava, the president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong conveyed his "deep dismay over the disgraceful incident."

"The Hong Kong police have opened a formal investigation into this incident and we look forward to the widespread publication of its results, regardless of whether any of the parties involved are protected by diplomatic immunity," Ernst Herb wrote to Shava.

"In a city where the rule of law prevails and media freedom is respected, no person - no matter his or her rank or status - can expect such a matter to be swept under the carpet." - Sapa-dpa

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