Chinamasa not off the hook yet

Clemence Manyukwe


JUSTICE minister Patrick Chinamasa is yet to get out of trouble as it emerged this week that the Attorney-General’s office is considering appealing against his acquittal on charges of attempting to defeat the course of justice.

Sour

ces at the AG’s office yesterday said they were scrutinising a judgement exonerating Chinamasa arrived at by retired magistrate Phenias Chipopoteke.

In his judgement Chipopoteke said the state had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

The state, led by Levison Chikafu, had said Chinamasa approached a key state witness James Kaunye and pressurised him to withdraw public violence charges faced by National Security minister Didymus Mutasa’s supporters.

Kaunye, a war veteran who was attacked for challenging Mutasa in Zanu PF Makoni North primary elections in 2004, went on to become the state’s key witness in Chinamasa’s trial.

Chinamasa mounted a political defence saying he was “caught in a crossfire” in a battle which he described in court as a “take-take, which in military terms means hand-to-hand combat using bayonets” between Kaunye and Mutasa.

The magistrate said Kaunye’s version of the story could not be relied on saying at times he was evasive and answered questions by firing questions at the defence team. He ruled that Kaunye was being treated as a single witness as no other person had heard Chinamasa persuading him to drop the charges. Under such circumstances the law stipulated that evidence from one witness had to be treated with caution.

During the trial, Chikafu said Mutasa would soon be taken to court to answer charges of public violence that resulted in 16 of his supporters being jailed for three years.

At one time Chinamasa’s prosecution suffered a setback when magistrates refused to try the Justice minister saying they had been intimidated by Mutasa.

The minister has since denied the allegations and threatened to sue Rusape magistrate Loice Mukunyadzi who made the damning claim in an open court.

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