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Minister acquitted

HARARE- A Zimbabwe court on Monday acquitted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a close ally of President Robert Mugabe, on a charge of trying to bribe a state witness in an assault case involving a cabinet colleague.

Chinamasa had denied the charge as “bas

eless, false and malicious”. His lawyer James Mutizwa said a magistrate in the eastern town of Rusape ruled that the case was fabricated.

“The magistrate found a lot of contradictions in the evidence of the main state witness … he was of the opinion that the case was fabricated,” Mutizwa told Reuters, adding that the state had not appealed against the ruling.

Chinamasa was accused of trying to bribe James Kaunye, a state witness in the assault case against a supporter of National Security Minister Didymus Mutasa.

The assault charge followed rows in the ruling ZANU-PF party over candidate selection for 2005 parliamentary elections.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, has successfully neutralised the country’s main opposition party, but his ZANU-PF is riven with fierce infighting.

Kaunye who lost the selection race against Mutasa, accused one of the minister’s supporters of assaulting him.

He told the court that Chinamasa had offered him a farm, help with a cattle project and a post as senator in exchange dropping the assult charge.

A guilty verdict would have seen Chinamasa either fined or sentenced to a jail term of up to six months. — Reuter

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