HomeLocal NewsState espionage case collapses

State espionage case collapses

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Africom Holdings bosses and a Global Satellite Systems executive accused of spying for the United States, Canada and Afghanistan on Wednesday walked out of Harare Magistrates’ Court in jubilation after the espionage charge against them was dropped by the State.

Jonathan Murombedzi, a representative of the Attorney-General’s Office, submitted the State had decided to withdraw the espionage charge before plea without giving any reasons for doing so.

All the bail conditions imposed against the businessmen were scrapped and their passports returned.

Simba Mangwende, Farai Rwodzi and Oliver Chiku, arrested last month on the espionage charge, had been expected to make an application for refusal of further remand.

But in a sudden turn of events, the State dropped the contested espionage charge, saying it was only going to pursue the second count on January 18 next year.

On the second count, the businessmen are being charged with contravening Section 33 (i) of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, which makes it an offence for one to illegally possess, control or work a radio station.

They reportedly set up a satellite system through a Canadian company called Juch Tech and sent messages to the US, Canada and Afghanistan.

The three men, clad in designer suits, were in the company of their lawyers, Nikita Madya and Innocent Chagonda, when they appeared before provincial magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi in Court 19.

When Mangwende, Rwodzi and Chiku were released on bail two weeks ago, the magistrate hinted the State was likely to face a daunting task in proving a case against them.

This was after the State failed to produce evidence in its bail opposition to prove the existence of hostilities between Zimbabwe and countries allegedly sent confidential information.

But defence lawyers challenged the State to prove there was a Presidential proclamation designating the countries as enemies of Zimbabwe.

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