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Judge lambasts Acting PG over Tomana trial

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High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi has lambasted Acting Prosecutor-General (PG) Advocate Ray Goba, describing his conduct in attempting to seek the judge’s recusal from handling former PG Johannes Tomana’s criminal trial, as unbecoming, unethical and unprofessional.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Justice Chitapi’s sentiments were expressed in his judgment that was released yesterday following an application by the State in February this year, seeking his recusal from presiding over Tomana’s trial.

During the month in question, Goba wrote to Judge President George Chiweshe asking him to intervene and order Justice Chitapi not to proceed with the trial on the basis that the latter had previously worked with Tomana and as such would be biased towards him.

However, Justice Chitapi did not take Goba’s remarks lightly, and, instead, ordered him to appear in court and explain his conduct, but the acting PG chose not to present himself before the court.

“I reach the conclusion that the machinations of the acting Prosecutor-General (Goba) in writing a letter seeking that the Judge President (Chiweshe) interferes with the independence of the presiding judge, of refusing to appear before the court to explain his conduct, of citing the judge as a litigant to the application for recusal and of deposing to an affidavit and alluding to matters which did not happen in court and distorting facts were unbecoming, unethical and unprofessional,” Justice Chitapi said.

“One will be forgiven for holding that the conduct was self-serving as opposed to pursuing the interest of justice. It was for the above observation that I prefaced my judgment by describing the conduct of the acting Prosecutor General as creating a storm in a teacup and as an example of much ado about nothing . . . After careful consideration of the application and submissions by counsel for both prosecution and the accused person, I rule that the State has failed to discharge the onus to establish cognisable grounds for the judge’s recusal and the application is dismissed.”

Tomana, who is facing six counts of abuse of office, early this year made an application for stay of proceedings citing infringement of his constitutional rights and the State is yet to respond to the application.

The former PG is being represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, while the State is represented by Malvern Musarurwa, Thompson Hove and Timothy Makoni.

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