six coup plotters back in court for trying to escape

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The case of the six alleged coup plotters took a new twist this week after they were brought to the Harare magistrates’ court late Wednesday to face charges that they tried to escape from Chikurubi Maximum Prison.

Albert Matapo, Shingirai Mutemachani, Nyasha Zivuku, Oncemore Mudzurahwowa, Emmanuel Marara, Patson Mapfure and Rangarirai Maziofa were arrested in 2006 and are being charged for plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe through a military coup.

They were brought to court under heavy guard by heavily armed police and prison officers who cordoned off the court house. There were more security personnel in the court room.

The state alleges that sometime between August 2007 and January 2008, the accused plotted, through written communications, to stage a prison break.

The accused allegedly sought the assistance of a fellow inmate who allegedly sold them out to prison officers.

Defense lawyer Charles Warara says the escape charges were “ludicrous” and meant to influence the High Court into denying the accused bail.

“Simple logic will ask you questions like why it took three years to bring up the charges.

The state witness is a former inmate, a hardcore criminal, who was granted bail and has since absconded and is now on the police wanted list,” said Warara.

“The evidence they have are pieces of tissue paper on which the accused are said to have laid out the escape plan,” claimed the defense lawyer.

The state alleges that the accused persons’ plan was to have an inmate Owen Tafadzwa Mutengwa, who is now on the run, help them with a get-away car.

“With their only witness on the run and the evidence being pieces of tissue paper, the state plans to have this case drag for as long as possible to keep my clients in jail,” said Warara.

“In fact I have reason to believe the plan is to influence the High Court decision on the bail application by portraying my clients as flight risks and unsuitable bail candidates.

“That is why the state invited journalists to cover the case so that it would appear in the papers and not escape the judge’s attention,” said Wharara.