Gwisai trial deferred again

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The trial of University of Zimbabwe lecturer and International Socialist Organisation (ISO) general-coordinator, Munyaradzi Gwisai, and five others accused of plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe through “Egyptian-style” revolts, on Wednesday failed to commence again.

Wednesday’s postponement was the third and a third regional magistrate, Estere Chivasa, has been assigned to preside over the matter.

Initially the trial was supposed to start in July when the State dropped the treason charges and charged the ISO members for allegedly conspiring to commit public violence.

But the trial failed to proceed as the State said it wanted to put its house in order and avail the necessary papers of the new charge to the defence lawyer, Aleck Muchadehama. The matter was then deferred to August.

Last month, the case failed to start after the magistrate who was expected to deal with the matter, Morgan Nemadire, recused himself indicating he knew one of the activists and the matter was again deferred to yesterday before regional magistrate William Bhila, but the trial failed to materialise.

Gwisai together with his co-accused Hopewell Gumbo, Antonater Choto, Welcome Zimuto, Edson Chakuma and Tatenda Mombeyarara were remanded to next week on Wednesday for possible trial.

Muchadehama gave notice to the State that if the trial failed to kick off next week, he would apply for refusal of further remand.

“We want it to be placed on record that this is the third time this matter has been postponed and the reasons have nothing to do with the accused. Accused are entitled to a fair trial,” he submitted.

Gwisai and his co-accused are also facing alternative charges of allegedly inciting public violence, participating in a gathering with the intention to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry.

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