Bennett's trial: Witness denies torture allegations

Hitschmann is Bennett’s co-accused and now the state’s key witness.

Makone, the first among 13 state witnesses to take to the witness stand, told the court during cross examination by the defence counsel: “My Lord, I am not aware of any torture againstHitschmann.”

Makone led police operations during the arrest of Hitschmann in 2006. The operations also involved state security agents and army officers. Since that time he was supervising the investigations inHitschmann’s case before he was assigned to handle Bennett’s case early this year.

Makone said he never perused Hitschmann’s docket to acquaint himself with how the investigations were being carried out.

Hitschmann was arrested together with two army officers, a Sibanda and one Major Phiri, who were never tried for the offences.

Together with their exhibits, he was taken to an army barracks in the city were he was subjected to prolonged interrogation during which he was also handed a piece of paper to note down all what he knew about the weapons.
He later told Superintendent Dhliwayo, investigating officer in his case that he had given evidence under “unfriendly and traumatic conditions”.Dhliwayo put that in entry in his diary of investigations.

Makone admitted he had also testified during Hitschmann’s trial saying Hitschmann was not tortured.

Hitschmann was acquitted of the charges after the court declined to admit evidence which was extracted through torture. The defence is adamant the state can not proceed on evidence which was sourced fromHitschmann through torture.

Makone further admitted he had erred when he included some weapons which were not recovered in Hitschmann’s house. “I admit my Lord that the weapons recovered in Masvingo at Major Phiri’s house were not recovered from Hitschmann.”

Earlier on, Makone had told the court he had personally gone to Hitschmann’s house in Mutare to recover an assortment of weapons from Hitschmann. The weapons, according to Makone, included an FN rifle, 1 MP5 sub-machine gun with a silencer, 1 AK47 rifle, 8 Uzzi rifles. Also recovered were 19 tear smoke canisters, 18 illuminating flairs, a tear smoke launcher and 3000 bullets of different sizes.

The trial continues on Thursday.