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19 September 2017 17:21 (South Africa)

Police pile ‘unrelated’ weapons into Bennett terrorism trial

Roy Bennett’s lawyers say Zimbabwe's police paraded weapons in court that are not related to his terrorism trial. Bennett was supposed to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister earlier this year in Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party. He is charged with possessing weapons for terrorism, insurgency and banditry, and faces a possible death sentence. Defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said police brought licensed weapons to court that belong to Peter Hitschmann - who earlier implicated Bennett under torture - and added several other weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Hitschmann was jailed in 2006 for illegal possession of weapons (which the state says were funded by Bennett), but a court threw out terrorism charges against him and found that he had licences for most of the arms. Just last week, Bennett’s lawyers asked Judge Chinembiri Bhunu to step down, but he refused. Bhunu was the same judge who refused Hitschmann’s bail application in 2006. He now says the cases of Hitschmann and Bennett are separate. How legally dubious is that, especially as Hitschmann was recently released from jail to act as a witness against Bennett? Talk about a show trial, with the MDC as primary target.

Read more: Reuters, Business Day, The Zimbabwe Telegraph, ZimOnline

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