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State now applying to impeach a key prosecution witness

Zimbabwe’s MDC Roy Bennett trial takes twists


By —— Bio and Archives--January 19, 2010

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s top aide and designate deputy agriculture minister, Roy Bennett’s trial on charges of possessing weaponry, banditry and attempting to commit terrorism has taken a new twist with the state now applying to impeach a key prosecution witness.

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High court judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu Monday said he will rule on the application on Thursday.

If granted the application,  Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, will cross examine his own witness, Peter Michael Hitschmann to discredit him.

Hitschmann, a registered arms dealer was acquitted in 2006 of the same charges facing Bennett. He served some time after conviction of possessing dangerous weapons.

The prosecution is arguing that Hitschmann’s backtracking from earlier statements is to “protect Bennett” but the arms dealer says he made the statements “under duress.”

Charges against Bennett are “trumped” and “politically motivated.”

However Bennett’s defense lawyer, Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, of Mtetwa and Nyambirai Legal Practitioners. opposed the impeachment of Hitschmann arguing that the state selectively chose to produce only three statements by Hitschmann ignoring three others consistent with his testimony in court.

Ms Mtetwa said from the night of March 6 2006 to the morning of March 7, Hitschmann signed several statements but the prosecution chose to use only three in their application.

She also argued that the statements could not be used for impeachment since some of them were recorded by members of the state intelligence and army.

Bennett who is being charged under Section 27 of Zimbabwe’s criminal law, faces life imprisonment if found guilty.

Tsvangirai’s MDC however has reiterated that the charges against Bennett are “trumped” and “politically motivated.”

The acquittal and swearing in of Bennett as a deputy agriculture minister is one of the contentious outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement signed by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.

President Robert Mugabe has remained adamant that Bennett can only be sworn in if the courts acquit him of the terrorism charges.

The trial continues Thursday.

 

 

 

 


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Stephen Chadenga -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Stephen Chandega is a journalist in Zimbabwe


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