13 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Glen View 29 Murder Trial Crumbling

press release

The High Court case in which 29 MDC members are being falsely accused by State of murdering a police officer in Glen View, Harare in May is falling apart like a deck of cards.

This emerged today during the continuation of trial in which the State counsel, Edmore Nyazamba sought to have the matter postponed by another two weeks as he wanted time to call the last State witness, Cuban pathologist Gabriel Gonzales Alvero.

Dr Alvero carried out an autopsy on the deceased police officer Petros Mutedza. However, for Dr Alvero to testify in court he needs the authority of the Cuban government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which Nyazamba failed to seek for in time despite indicting the 29 members nearly a year ago.

The delays by the State in bringing in its witnesses and repeatedly calling for postponements, today forced the defence lawyers to apply for new bail for the remaining five accused who are still in remand prison. The lawyers were citing changed circumstances. They have been previously denied bail on several occasions with the State claiming that they are a flight risk.

The five seeking bail are; Last Maengahama, an MDC national executive member, Councillor Tungamirai Madzokere, Simon Mapanzure, Rebecca Mafukeni and Yvonne Musarurwa.

The defence said Nyazamba should have been aware of the extra-territorial requirements facing the pathologist for him to testify in the trial and it was unfair to continue detaining the five in remand prison. "There is no small challenge on the plight of the 29 members as for the past 20 months their lives have been on a complete standstill with five of them in remand prison," said the lead defence counsel, Beatrice Mtetwa.

"It is not only insensitive for the State to say it is a small challenge when it is a monumental challenge. Four of those in remand prison are living in solitary confinement at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and only see the light when they are coming to court. You can have the spectre of the two women who are at the maximum prison climbing the steps in leg irons in order to come into the court room," said Mtetwa.

Musarurwa and Mafukeni are incarcerated at the male section of Chikurubi Prison which houses convicted and serving male prisoners. Nyazamba is denying that the five be granted bail claiming that the State case has been strengthened by the evidence given by its witnesses.

However, the defence rubbished Nyazamba's claims saying to the contrary, the State claims had been weakened as none of the State's witnesses was able to collaborate each other's claim despite the fact that some of the witnesses were at the same place at the same time.

Defence lawyer Mtetwa accused the State of showing lack of seriousness in the manner he acted and that its conduct was putting the judiciary system into disrepute. "I don't believe that is the way the Attorney General should do his business. I therefore ask this court to lean on the side of the accused than the lies of the State," said Mtetwa.

The trial judge Justice Chimembiri Bhunu, is expected to make his ruling on the bail application on Wednesday, 20 February.

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