Civil servants strike defers Bennett terror trial

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THE treason trial of MDC treasurer general and deputy agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett failed to take off Monday due to the ongoing strike by civil servants.

State and defence lawyers turned up Monday morning at the High Court, but were turned away by presiding Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu who told them his support staff had not turned up for work.

Lawyers for the defense had a brief meeting with Justice Bhunu in his chambers, where he informed them of his predicament – without his staff the trial could not resume.

State lawyer Chris Mtangadura said: “The matter has been postponed indefinitely until the strike is over. All matters at the High Court have to be recorded and the clerk of court is not available. We don’t have a date when the trial can resume because of the strike.”

Justice Bhunu last week reserved ruling on whether to allow defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa to cross examine the State’s witness Precious Nyasha Matare who used “fake e-mails” purporting to have originated from Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

Mtetwa wants to convince the court that the contentious e-mail communications allegedly made between State key witness Peter Michael Hitschmann and Bennett in the ongoing treason trial were fake and could have been manufactured by anyone any where in the world.

Justice Bhunu last week ruled the e-mails were admissible evidence and could be used in the cross-examination of Bennett, a ruling that Mtetwa now seeks to challenge.

She presented state witness Matare with a number of fake emails and asked her to read them out in court to show that emails could be created.

This raised a furore in court as Tomana, from whom one of the e-mails purported to have originated, fumed and accused Mtetwa of trying to demean and make a caricature of the office of the AG and his person.

He asked the court to reject Mtetwa’s line of argument and demanded that the court accord the AG with the respect and protection that his office deserved.

Mtetwa, however, argued that Tomana did not deserve any more respect than any other law officer before the court insisting she and Tomana were equal before the court.

The trail will resume at a date yet to be announced.