SEVEN Mbada Diamonds employees facing charges of unlawfully dealing with diamonds have claimed that the charges were trumped up after they allegedly refused to co-operate with the State in nailing down Mutare businessman and diamond tycoon Mudassar Khan.
This emerged on Monday when the suspects, who are jointly charged with one Charles Gonzo and Khan, were applying for refusal of further remand after the State indicated that it was not yet ready for trial.
The seven are Innocent Tsindi (power screen operator), Simbarashe Gondo (sorter), Hardlife Kuhudzehwe (dozer operator), Temba Mvalo (dozer operator), Talkmore Chigeza (sorter), Tendai Gwazaza (supervisor in the sorting department) and Tafadzwa Ngorima (sorter).
In his submissions before Mutare magistrate Sekai Chiundura, the suspects’ lawyer Trust Maanda said the State had no basis to continue retaining his clients on remand as they had no case to answer.
He said since his clients were arrested, no warned and cautioned statements were recorded from them.
He added that his clients were later tortured by police to implicate Khan and made to sign affidavits under duress.
Maanda also told the court that his clients were advised that they will be witnesses against Khan, but after they sued Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and other top police officers for alleged torture, they were then taken as accused persons and jointly charged with Khan.
The matter is now set for trial on July 23 this year.
Meanwhile, Khan heaved a sigh of relief after the court ordered the release of his Indian passport, which was held as part of his bail conditions.
Charges against the nine are that between August 1 2013 and February this year, they stole diamonds from Mbada Diamonds and sold them to Khan.
The State alleges as a token of appreciation, Khan allegedly bought them motor vehicles.
The Mbada Diamonds employees have since filed a High Court application to order police to return their seized vehicles.