Plans to nail MDC Bennett exposed

Harare – Zimbabwe's former opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Monday that it had unearthed a plan by state prosecutors to revoke the bail conditions of its treasurer general who is facing banditry charges.\r\n

The trial of MDC national treasurer and deputy Agriculture Minister-designate Roy Bennett on charges of insurgency is due to start in the regional court in the eastern border town of Mutare on Tuesday.

"However, it has come to the attention of the MDC that the Attorney General’s office is intending to serve indictment papers on Senator Bennett at the start of his trial requesting that the matter be moved to the High Court and that Senator Bennett be remanded in custody," an MDC spokesman said.

Bennett was arrested on 13 February 2009 for offences allegedly committed in 2005.

He was initially granted bail in June by the High Court but the state appealed against the bail order with the effect that the case was referred to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision and he was released on bail.

In June, the state set down October 13 as Bennett’s trial date in the regional court in Mutare.

The MDC spokesman said the state had since June failed to provide Bennett with evidence against him despite numerous demands by his lawyers for them to do so.

The serving of indictment papers to Bennett on a day his trial is scheduled to commence would therefore immediately result in him being remanded in custody, the MDC said.

It would also mean that his trial in the High Court would only commence sometime next year as the High Court calendar is already full until February
2010.

"The intended serving of indictment papers on Senator Bennett is therefore a malicious ploy by the Attorney General’s office to keep his criminal charges pending thereby denying him opportunity to be sworn in as the deputy Agriculture Minister," the MDC spokesman said.

President Robert Mugabe has said Bennett would only be sworn in after he is cleared of the charges he is facing. AFP