MDC Alliance deputy national chairperson Tendai Biti’s lead lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was this week left fuming after being given the run-around by judicial officers over the referral of the former Finance minister’s case to the High Court.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Biti is on trial for allegedly prematurely announcing results of the July 30 elections. He is also said to have incited the post-election protests which resulted in the killing of six people in a military crackdown.
In a letter to the registrar of the High Court, a copy of which NewsDay has in its possession, Mtetwa accused the State of refusing to reveal the identity of the judge who is set to hear the case. Mtetwa also disclosed her anger at the “murky” nature of the referral that she said seems to have circumvented procedure.
“The writer attended at the criminal registry with a view to ascertaining whether the trial magistrate had already referred the record to the High Court and whether we can have a copy of the referral document as we remain unclear as to the legal basis of the referral.
“The registry staff went through its documents and advised that the record has not been recorded as received in the normal way that appeal reviews and other records are recorded,” Mtetwa said.
She, however, indicated that the registrar had confirmed receipt of the record despite all documentation showing no such referral had been made.
“As our client might want to be heard on whatever it is that has been referred to the High Court, we then requested that we be provided with a copy of the letter. After making a call, the registrar advised that the judge seized with the matter was most likely in court.
“As the matter is now urgent, if a judge is already seized with the matter, we requested that we be advised of the identity of the judge so that we could directly make our request through the judge’s clerk,” Mtetwa said in the letter.
However, the registrar refused to reveal the judge’s identity.
“The registrar advised that she was not at liberty to disclose the identity of the judge. The registrar, however, advised that the record had been referred for a review in terms of Section 26 of the High Court Act.
“How the record was not entered in the Criminal Registry as is the case with review records is, therefore, not clear,” the letter reveals. Mtetwa has since demanded a copy of the referral letter.