No joy for Bennett

Eric Chiriga

HIGH Court Judge Justice Bharat Patel yesterday dismissed with costs Chimanimani MP, Roy Bennett’s application for early release from prison.



Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>“The application fails on all the three grounds proffered by the applicant as warranting his early release from imprisonment,” Justice Patel said.


He also ruled that Bennett’s prison term would not automatically end when the current parliament, which convicted him, dissolves on March 30.


He said Bennett may be granted but was not entitled as a right to one-third remission of his sentence under section 109 of the Prisons Act.


Bennett had applied to the court seeking an order directing his release from prison forthwith or within 12 hours of the granting of the order.


Alternatively, Bennett sought an order for his release on March 30, 2005 being the date of dissolution of the present parliament.


Justice Patel said Bennett’s term of imprisonment was not curtailed or affected by Section 63(8) of the constitution which deals with dissolution of parliament.


He added that the provisions of section 32 of the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act do not govern Bennett’s term of imprisonment and as such it will not automatically terminate upon the dissolution of parliament on March 30, 2005.


Bennett is presently incarcerated at Mutoko Prison following the imposition of a one-year sentence by parliament last October.


He was charged with contempt of parliament after he assaulted fellow legislator Patrick Chinamasa.