MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Tendai Biti’s lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, yesterday clashed with the prosecutor over the State’s plans to proceed with the trial of the Harare East MP despite a pending High Court application for review of the matter.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Biti is facing charges of violating the Electoral Act after he allegedly announced that MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa had won the July 30 presidential poll.
He is also facing another charge of border jumping.
Prosecutor Michael Reza told the court that Biti’s trial would begin on October 29 and this did not go down well with Muchadehama, who argued that he was not consulted and the defence had already advised the State that they filed an application for stay of trial proceedings at the High Court.
“The accused has applied for a review of the magistrate’s decision to dismiss his court application, where he was unlawfully brought to the court after being abducted from Zambia,” Muchadehama said.
“We have since applied for a permanent stay of trial. We are now placing a notice to apply for stay of trial proceedings pending the determination on permanent stay of proceedings.”
But Reza would have none of it, saying the defence had demanded a trial date and the State had obliged.
Instead, Muchadehama told court that Reza could not force his client to go to trial by violating his constitutional rights.
“Reza cannot force my client to go to trial, but will not argue before the date. We will cross the bridge when we get there,” Muchadehama told court.
However, magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa postponed the matter to November 7 for trial.
Biti was denied asylum by the Zambian government after he tried to seek refuge in that country.
He claimed that he was abducted in Zambia by unidentified Zimbabwean men, adding the abductors forced him to cross the border and was arrested on the Zimbabwean side.
Biti said he was unlawfully returned to Zimbabwe despite the fact that his life was in danger. He said no court in Zimbabwe had jurisdiction over him in the matter which he says should be in a Zambian court of law since an order was passed by a Lusaka judge.
The legislator said his deportation from Zambia was in violation of international law, which nullified any action arising from his deportation.