Bennett's Lawyers To Refuse Further Remand

Harare,- Embattled Movement for Democratic Change Treasurer-General and Deputy Agriculture minister-designate, Roy Bennett's lawyers are expected to apply for refusal of further remand if he appears in on Tuesday as planned.

Trust Maanda, the lawyer, said the State was unlikely to proceed with Bennett’s trial as promised during his last remand date in July because it had failed to furnish his client with his indictment papers.

The indictment papers outline the nature of an accused person’s charges, the dates during which the offence is alleged to have been committed and the witnesses thereof, to allow the accused to prepare his defence outline.

“We are going to ask the courts that he be removed from remand because the State has demonstrated that it is not interested in purposing the matter any more,” said Maanda. “We have been communicating with the Attorney General’s office since his last remand date on the issue of the State papers including making an application to the courts in September this year to compel them to provide us with the indictment papers but they have failed to do so.”

Manda believes the State is deliberately dragging the case as it does not have any incriminating evidence to prosecute the MDC Senator.

Bennett (52), a close ally to MDC president and the country’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested in February this year on charges of possessing weapons for the purposes of insurgency and banditry.

Eight months into the inclusive government, President Robert Mugabe has refused to swear in the former Chimanimani legislator into office saying he would want him to first clear his case in court before he can accept him into government.

President Mugabe is also adamant the MDC should proceed and nominate another of its officials to take up Bennett’s post if it feels hard done by his failure to be co-opted into the inclusive government.

The continued failure by Mugabe to swear him in is among the most contentious issues that have been taken for adjudication by SADC, brokers of Zimbabwe’s unity deal.

The MDC believes the charges against one of its founding legislators are trumped up. Bennett once served a one year jail term for assaulting justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in parliament.

Following charges of terrorism, he fled the country to seek asylum in South Africa in 2006 after the police quizzed him over the discovery an arms cache at a house belonging to Mike Peter Hirschman, an arms dealer.

Bennett returned to the country early this year after he had been advised by some MDC officials it was now safe to come back home.

He was on February 13 this year seized by the police and some intelligence officers at the Charles Prince Airport as he was just about to fly back to South Africa to visit his family. He spent a month at Mutare remand prison amid frantic attempts by his lawyers and the MDC to have him released.