The High Court yesterday granted bail to 21 MDC-T activists accused of killing a police officer on the basis that the State case was weakening against them. Yesterday's bail ruling brings to 24 the
number of suspects granted bail in the murder case of the 29 party activists accused of murdering Inspector Petros Mutedza.
The weakening of the State's case, according to the judge, removes an incentive for the 21 to abscond trial when released on bail.
But Justice Chinembiri Bhunu dismissed applications by five other activists.
Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa, Rebecca Mafukeni, Last Tamai Maengahama and Simon Mapanzure lost their freedom bid for fear that they would abscond trial.
Justice Bhunu found that while State case weakened against the 21 suspects, it however, strengthened against the five.
"What emerges quite clearly from the evidence before me is that while there has been a weakening of the State's case in respect of the rest of the accused persons, it has strengthened against the first, second, third, fourth and sixteenth accused persons.
"The five are not entitled to bail as they are a flight risk owing to the seriousness of their offence and their failure to establish the existence of special or exceptional circumstances prescribed by law," the court ruled.
Justice Bhunu yesterday granted the prosecution's application for the State's witness Ms Edinah Chihota to testify in camera at the victim Friendly Court at the Harare Magistrates' Court.
Ms Chihota is expected to give evidence at the Harare Magistrates' Court in January.
Twenty of the freed suspects were to abide by the bail conditions imposed on them when they were firstly granted bail last year.
Most of them paid US$500 bail.
The judge directed both the defence and State lawyers to agree on the terms and conditions for the release of one of the suspects who had not been granted bail before.
Failure by the parties to agree on the conditions, Justice Bhunu will have to determine.
All the released suspects should report to Glen View Police Station twice per week until finalisation of the case.
Solomon Madzore, Cynthia Manjoro and another suspect were released in the past two months.
The evidence of the investigating officer, according to the judge, did not suggest that any of the 21 did anything in the commission of the offence.
Previously the court dismissed bail applications by the 21 on the basis of non-existent evidence that some undercover police details had identified the suspects committing the offence.
From the evidence led so far in the trial, the evidence of the undercover officers turned to be non-existent and false.
Justice Bhunu blamed the prosecutor and the defence team for failing to disclose the clear special circumstances to the court throughout the trial.
"What is disturbing is that both the State and defence were aware of these facts right from the initial remand," said Justice Bhunu.
"In the case of Madzore, I cannot understand why he was ever placed on remand when his alibi had been checked and confirmed by the police.
"It was remiss of the State to place him on remand and for the defence to fail to adduce evidence to this effect."
"Both the State and the defence consistently failed to adduce and place that evidence before the courts from initial remand to trial.
"I have no doubt that had proper action been taken his case (Madzore's) would not have gone beyond initial remand."
Commenting on the case of Cynthia Manjoro the judge said:
"It boggles the mind why she was ever placed on remand when it was common cause between the parties that she was merely being used as bait to catch her suspect boyfriend."