The key state witness in Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasurer general, Roy Bennett trial on treason charges, has denied that he ever entered into weapon business transactions with the accused Tuesday.
Michael Hitschmann, who was declared a hostile witness Monday by High court Judge, Chinembiri Bhunu, after application by the chief prosecutor, Johannes Tomana to have him impeached told the court under cross examination that the Mozambican bank account he used was for normal transactions with his clients.
He denied the account in Mozambique, a neighbouring country to Zimbabwe, was used by Bennett to deposit money to purchase arms of war as alleged by the state saying it was for business transactions with his clients in that country (Mozambique).
Attorney General, Tomana, suggested to Hitshmann in court that “the process of acquiring” the weapons is “expensive” and could only be possible through “funding from the accused,” to which the star state witness denied.
Hitschmann instead said he worked with neighbouring Mozambique since 1985 during their war of liberation. He told the court that he used the account for business with the country when he used to supply goods and services at a time the country was recovering from the effects of civil war.
The key state witness also denied the detonators and grenade recovered from him were for combat purposes but said instead used them to scare straying elephants from a game reserve in the Eastern border of Zimbabwe, in Manicaland.
He told the court the operation (to curb straying wild animals) was joint with the country’s army and police who supplied the weapons and denied the MDC designate deputy agriculture minister (Bennett) had anything to do with it.
Hitschmann also denied communicating with Bennett through e-mails to destabilise the country as alleged by the state.
Bennett’s trial is one controversial case in Zimbabwe’s fragile political environment, as Tsvangirai’s MDC claim one of their top man is being “politically persecuted” with the charges “framed” against him.
President Robert Mugabe has however said Bennett, who has to date not been sworn into office, can only do so if the courts clear him.
The trial continues Wednesday.
Stephen Chandega is a journalist in ZimbabweCommenting Policy
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