State's star witness under spotlight

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Peter Michael Hitschmann, the State’s star witness in the trial of MDC Treasurer-General Roy Bennett, came under the spotlight this week when he was called in to testify against the deputy agriculture minister-designate who is facing charges of terrorism, banditry and insurgency.

The Mutare arms dealer and former policeman, Hitschmann, who described himself as a firearms expert was quick to show off his expertise when he was asked by Attorney General Johannes Tomana to identify the weapons that have been brought to court as evidence.

Hitschmann described the weapons in greater detail as he corked the guns and examining them briefly before naming them and their origins. For close to 30 minutes the court room was filled with the sounds of gun-corking and the rattling of bullets.

“Here is an AK 47 and it’s an assault rifle from Russia. This is another Uzi riffle and its Belgian made. Some of the Uzis here are from the Cuban Military and one is from the Rhodesian Army,” said Hitschmann as Justice Chenembiri Bhunu continuously reminded him to slow down to allow him to record the testimony.

Hitschmann told the court that it would take days if he was to describe each and every bullet in that was in court.

“From the feel of my hand this is a 7, 62 by 51 round of ammunition. There is an assortment of different kinds of ammunition,” he said as he dug his hand into a bag full of bullet.

Hitschmann who worked for the Zimbabwe republic Police from 1987 until 2001 disowned some of the weapons among them six oozes that are on display as evidence that was recovered from his house in Mutare.

Asked about his first encounter with Bennett, Hitschmann said: “I first saw the accused on television when something entertaining was happening was happening in Parliament. It was something similar to the World Wrestling Federation and he was close-lining Honourable (Patrick) Chinamasa.”

The State now wants to impeach him arguing that he has departed from his previous statements which form the basis of the charges against Bennett.

The trial is continuing at the High Court.

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