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Subject: Mark Chavunduka, 37; Journalist, Publisher

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Date Posted: November 15, 2002 10:19:05 EDT

Zimbabwean journalist and publisher Mark Chavunduka, whose arrest and subsequent torture helped expose his government's increasing repression of dissent, died Monday in Harare. His father, Dexter Chavunduka, said his son, who was 37, died after being hospitalized for chest and side pains.

The cause of his death was believed to be unrelated to the effects of his weeklong detention and torture in 1999, according to Associated Press.

Chavunduka often complained to friends and colleagues of recurring nightmares of the beatings and electric shocks he received at a military intelligence facility outside Harare.

Chavunduka and a colleague, Ray Choto, were detained after reporting in the independent Zimbabwe Standard newspaper about disaffection in the military and a possible coup plot against President Robert Mugabe's government.

The government denied the report and ignored court orders to either free Chavunduka or press charges against him.

After the men were released, authorities refused to prosecute the torturers whom Chavunduka identified. His torture brought the world's attention to the government's human rights violations and its efforts to suppress criticism.

Charges against Chavunduka and Choto for allegedly publishing a false report liable to create alarm and despondency were later dropped.

Chavunduka, who is survived by his wife and three children, received several international awards for courageous reporting. In April, he took over a controlling share in an independent magazine publishing business.

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