Biti challenges separation of charges

HARARE – MDC-T secretary-general and Harare East member of the House of Assembly Tendai Biti, who is being charged with treason, communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the State, insulting the President and causing disaffection among the defence forces, on Monday challenged the separation of the charges for trial.\r\n

His lawyer, Advocate Lewis Uriri, launched the application after prosecutor Mr Allan Masiya suggested December 17 as the trial date for the other charges, but left out the treason count.

Mr Masiya said the treason case would be dealt with separately at the High Court before he successfully applied for the matter to be deferred to yesterday for the director of public prosecutions, Mr Joseph Jagada, to respond fully to the application.

"My instructions were only to provide the trial date for the three counts as at December 17 and I cannot not divulge the details since I am not the one seized with the matter.
"As for the application, I leave it for the prosecutor handling the matter to avail himself and respond," said Mr Masiya.
Adv Uriri argued that the charges emanated from one document and that the splitting of the case was improper and prejudicial to Biti.

Mr Uriri said the State’s actions breached the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the charges should be tried at the same time.
Yesterday, chief law officer Mr Tendai Zvekare from the Attorney-General’s Office attended court and sought further postponement of the hearing.

Ms Takundwa deferred the proceedings to December 4 when the State is expected to respond to Biti’s objection.
Mr Uriri submitted that the trial date provided was "simply meant to defeat an application for refusal of further remand" that the defence intended to make.

Adv Uriri said the reasons proffered by the State in a pre-trial discussion were insincere.
Allegations against Biti stem from a document entitled "The Transition Strategy", which the State alleges he authored on March 25 this year.

It is alleged that the document carried a treasonous statement in which Biti and his party intended to overthrow the constitutionally-elected Government of Zimbabwe.

The State argues the document carried falsehoods prejudicial to the State, caused disaffection among the defence forces and insulted the President.