Businessman demands missing court records

Katsimberis is accused of forging a plan for a house that he constructed on behalf of Pokugara Properties, which is owned by businessman Ken Sharpe.

Harare businessman George Katsimberis has accused court officials of altering transcripts of his fraud trial, which he says has affected his application to have the case referred to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

Katsimberis is accused of forging a plan for a house that he constructed on behalf of Pokugara Properties, which is owned by businessman Ken Sharpe.

He wants the matter referred to the ConCourt after several attempts to have prosecutor Michael Reza and presiding magistrate Wongai Guwuriro Muchuchuti removed from the case because of their alleged bias.

Katsimberis’s lawyer Tino Chinyoka told Muchuchuti last week that the court has supplied his client with three different versions of the transcript of prior proceedings, which all lacked critical information needed for the ConCourt application.

Chinyoka made an application for a complete record of all the court proceedings after they were informed that some recordings could not be found.

The revelations were made after several demands to obtain the correct transcript without success.  

Chinyoka listed recordings from several dates that were missing from the transcript.

“We need the complete record to be found, to be reconstructed where it is missing and, on the parts, where it needs to be reconstructed to be.

“This is what I want, this is an application I am making,” Chinyoka said.

“We got three pieces of the transcript, which I would charitably say are a duplicate of what we have.

“I should say that these were made of transcripts to the extent of being, I don’t want to use the word fake or fraudulent, but maybe explaining is better.” 

He added: “We got three pieces of transcripts with dates, so the larger one says 22 February 2022 and everything that is on it is material that we already have on two other transcripts dated 8 February 2022 and 15 February 2022. 

“So, what is on the one for February 8 2022 is half of what is on the one for 15 February 2022 and then what is on the one for 22 February 2022 is both of the 8 February and the 15 February.”  

Chinyoka said they had also requested transcripts for court proceedings that were held on August 25, 2021, October 9, 2021 and March 8, 2022. 

“We were told that we will never get those reasons being the tapes for those three dates (are missing),” he said.

“And comparing that with our own records in the period before your worship took over the case these are the following dates in respect of which there are no transcripts.

“All hearings from August 3, 2021, until November 8, 2021, and those dates were August 3 2021, August 25, October 1, 2021, and October 9, 2021.

Other dates mentioned for 2021 include November 30, December 1, and December 16. For 2022, the dates are January 13, February 7 and 15.”

Chinyoka said the clerk of court is administratively required to search the record or missing part of the record and if he or she fails, a mechanical record must be transcribed on the missing parts to be reconstructed.

He said he wanted a complete transcript starting from where his client was asked to plead when Letwin Rwodzi was still the presiding magistrate.

Chinyokwa accused Reza of lacking independence after he opposed the application.

He accused the prosecutor of being in “anomalous relationship” with Tatiana Aleshina, who represented the complainant, Pokugara and taking instructions from her. 

He cited examples where Reza went to sit and have lengthy animated conversations with Aleshina in court, including vowing to her that no one will stop him from talking to her.

Chinyoka said Reza’s lack of independence was also shown when he responded on behalf of the magistrate in an application for her recusal when he was supposed to take a neutral position.

Muchuchuti ruled that Katsimberis’s trial should continue  while the defence explained expedited court processes to have the transcript reconstructed. 

She said Chinyoka should approach the senior regional court and make an application before Rwodzi for the reconstruction process because she handled the earlier proceedings.

This was the umpteenth time the property developer had an application dismissed after he tried to have the magistrate recuse herself on allegations that she is conflicted.

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