Gun-loving ‘missionaries’ receive light sentences

Gun-loving ‘missionaries’ receive light sentences.(News)

The Birmingham Post (England); 9/14/1999

HARARE: A Zimbabwe judge gave light sentences
to three American missionaries on arms charges because they had
been tortured. They trio are unlikely to serve more than two months
in prison under the terms imposed. The sentencing ended the saga
of Gary Blanchard (36) John Lamonte Dixon (36) and Joseph Wendell
Pettijohn (35) who called themselves gun-loving missionaries and
later alleged they were brutally treated in prison. The Zimbabwe
government originally accused them of being mercenaries and denied
the mistreatment. Judge Ismael Adam gave each the same concurrent
sentences – six months for possessing weapons of war, and 21 months
for taking dangerous materials aboard an airliner. Adams credited
them with time served after their arrest in March, and with time
off for good behaviour, the three could be out in November. They
had faced up to life in prison. Judge Adam said prosecutors’ failure
to rebut evidence of torture constituted “special circumstances”
why he should not impose more severe sentences.
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