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Bennett back in court


Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku is tomorrow expected to decide on the application by the Attorney General (AG) seeking permission to appeal against the acquittal of Roy Bennett, the deputy minister of agriculture designate and MDC-T treasurer general.
Bennett, the MDC-T treasurer general was in May acquitted of charges of attempting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.
High Court judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ruled that the state failed to prove a prima facie case against Bennett during his high profile trial.
Trust Maanda, one of Bennett’s lawyers, said the Supreme Court was expected to decide on whether the AG should be allowed permission to appeal against Bennett’s acquittal or not.
Bennett was appointed deputy minister of agriculture-designate
by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, but President Robert Mugabe refused to swear him until he was cleared on charges of treason, banditry and terrorism.
Although Bennett was acquitted, he is still to be sworn-in. Acquitting Bennett, Bhunu ruled that evidence by the state’s key witness and arms dealer Peter Michael Hitschmann was inadmissible.
Hitschmann practically ruined the state’s case when he said statements extracted from him while in custody were uttered under duress.
He was declared a hostile witness. Bhunu ruled the prosecution failed to prove that e-mails allegedly linking Bennett to the arms dealer were genuine. Bennett was arrested on February 13, 2009, the day ministers in the delicate unity government were sworn in.
The Bennett issue has rocked the unity government since its inception and is one of the long- standing sticking points bedeviling the coalition.

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