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MRS MUGABE; President's wife beats up photographer who snapped her shopping.

Byline: BY TOM PARRY

IT was an attack her vicious husband would have been proud of... Robert Mugabe's wife Grace, 43, punched a British photographer in the face after he tried to take her picture outside a posh hotel.

And she even allegedly ordered a bodyguard to hold down snapper Richard Jones while she laid into him.

The 42-year-old freelancer said last night: "She was wearing diamond-encrusted rings, which caused a lot of lacerations to my face."

Witness Werner Zapletal added: "She was screaming, completely crazy."

Richard suffered at least 10 facial cuts in the attack outside Hong Kong's Shangri-La hotel.

Police are investigating the alleged assault. No arrests have been made.

Richard was working for the Sunday Times. Far East correspondent Michael Sheridan was with him before the attack. He said: "We take very seriously the freedom of journalists to operate abiding by the law in Hong Kong and we look to the authorities to uphold those rights at all times."

Mrs Mugabe, who married the hated Zimbabwean dictator in 1996, was in Hong Kong to visit daughter Bona, who is studying there. She has since left the former British colony.

The luxury trip comes amid the complete collapse of Zimbabwe's economy and a cholera crisis that has killed at least 2,000 people.

Mrs Mugabe, known for her extravagant lifestyle, also spent time at the Malaysian island resort Langkawi before meeting her husband in Singapore.

The former secretary has often provoked outrage since marrying the ZANU-PF leader. On a short shopping trip to Paris it is said she spent pounds 75,000.

And she has overseen the construction of two palaces, one of which was dubbed Gracelands by poor Zimbaweans.

ZIMBABWE IN CRISIS

The economy is so bad, a trillion dollars is worth pounds 20. A fifth of 15 to 19-year-olds have HIV. Life expectancy of women is just 34.

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BLEEDING Richard with cuts to his face; ANGRY Mrs Mugabe in Hong Kong moments after she hit snapper Picture: SINOPIX/REX FEATURES; COUPLE With husband
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 20, 2009
Words:339
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