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Gwisai trial opens

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The trial of civic society activist and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Munyaradzi Gwisai on a charge of plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe through an Egyptian-style uprising, is set to kick off on Wednesday.

Coincidentally, Gwisai and five of his alleged accomplices go into the dock as former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stands trial in Egypt after being ousted in a revolt early this year.

Gwisai is coordinator-general of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO).

The trial date was set following a dramatic turn of events, which was characterised by the withdrawal of treason charges against ISO members by the Attorney-General (AG)’s Office in preference for a lesser charge of conspiring to commit public violence.

Gwisai’s co-accused include Hopewell Gumbo, Antonater Choto, Welcome Zimuto, Edson Chakuma and Tatenda Mombeyarara.
They are also facing alternative charges of allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry.

Last month the State availed more evidence and exhibits to the activists’ lawyer, Alec Muchadehama.
Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba confirmed the latest developments and said he had handed over all the necessary papers to the defence team and the matter was now expected to be tried by regional magistrate William Bhila.

The trial, supposed to have commenced last month, was postponed after magistrate Morgan Nemadire recused himself saying he was related to one of the activists.

Gwisai and his co-accused were arrested on February 19, together with 39 others during what they termed a “constitutional and democracy lecture” in Harare.

However, their other alleged counterparts were freed for lack of evidence linking them to the crime.

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