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Zimbabwe drops charges against members of medical team

By the CNN Wire Staff
Six medical workers, including four Americans, appeared in 
court in Zimbabwe on Monday, September 20.
Six medical workers, including four Americans, appeared in court in Zimbabwe on Monday, September 20.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The four Americans were from a California AIDS ministry
  • Two others were from Zimbabwe and New Zealand
  • They have operations in Harare and Mutoko
RELATED TOPICS
  • Zimbabwe

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Zimbabwe's government has dropped charges against six health workers accused of dispersing AIDS/HIV drugs without appropriate documentation.

"The state is withdrawing charges against the accused," Chris Mutangadura, a senior lawyer with Zimbabwe's attorney general, told a Harare magistrate court Wednesday.

Four Americans, a New Zealander, and a Zimbabwean were arrested in Harare two weeks ago.

Police had accused the American health workers of dispensing AIDS drugs without proper registration and licences, claims they flatly denied.

Before their arrest, the U.S. health workers had been working in Zimbabwe for almost a decade on HIV/AIDs projects and were given a farm by the government to operate from in Mutoko, about 200 kilometers east of Harare.

They have numerous patients, most of whom were AIDS orphans, at the farm. They also operated an AIDS clinic in Harare.

The Americans belong to the Allen Temple Baptist Church AIDS Ministry in Oakland, California.

The church serves a predominantly African-American congregation. Three or four times a year since 2000, members have paid their own way to Zimbabwe to give antiretroviral medicine, vitamins, clothing and food baskets to impoverished people with AIDS.

"The AG has been sympathetic to them because they are assisting the public," said Jonathan Samukange their lawyer as he left the magistrate court with his clients.

The Americans are Dr. Anthony Jones, nurses David Greenberg and Gregory Miller, and Allen Temple Baptist Church AIDS Ministry administrator Gloria Cox-Crowell.

They were working with two other doctors -- Reid Andrew Cheyne of New Zealand and Tembinkosi Ncomanzi of Zimbabwe.