Hong Kong police probe alleged assault by Mugabe’s wife

January 19th, 2009 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, Jan 19 (DPA) Police in Hong Kong were investigating Monday whether an alleged assault by the wife of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during a shopping trip was captured on video.Investigators were told that Grace Mugabe repeatedly punched a newspaper photographer in the street, at a location believed to be in view of a security camera on the side of a shopping centre.

The incident occurred at the Tsim Sha Tsui Centre on Mody Road where Grace Mugabe, 43, allegedly attacked Richard Jones, chief photographer of Hong Kong photo agency Sinopix, after he photographed her shopping Thursday.

Jones was on assignment for the Sunday Times in London and was tailing Grace Mugabe, whose home country relies heavily on food aid, on her trip to Hong Kong with an entourage including friends and bodyguards.

After her bodyguard chased after Jones and tried to grab his camera, Grace Mugabe allegedly ran over and punched the 42-year-old Welshman repeatedly in the face and head, causing abrasions.

Jones said the attack took place directly beneath one CCTV camera and within range of another camera further along the side of the shopping centre.

Police will study footage from the cameras, the property of shopping centre owners Sinoland, and are also expected to take formal statements from a reporter and second photographer working with Jones at the time of the incident.

“I have been very impressed by the response of the police,” Jones said. “They are being very professional and thorough in their investigation and they are clearly taking what happened very seriously.

“I have no idea if Mugabe can be brought back to Hong Kong if an assault case comes to court, but I am pleased to see that it’s being looked into properly and isn’t just being put to one side because of who she is.”

Mugabe checked out of the Shangri-la Hotel where she stayed with her entourage and returned to Zimbabwe Friday, a day before Jones reported the incident to police.

A Hong Kong police spokeswoman Sunday confirmed the investigation was continuing.

Criticized in the past for her lavish spending while most Zimbabweans suffer appalling poverty, she married the president in 1996 after the death of his first wife, to whom he was married for 40 years.

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