JUSTICE minister Patrick Chinamasa will plead not guilty to charges of attempting to defeat the course of justice when his trial kicks off on Tuesday,
his lawyer has said.
Harare lawyer James Mutizwa said Chinamasa, who has failed to turn up for trial on two previous occasions — July 3 and July 17 — would definitely be in court at the beginning of August.
Chinamasa and five others, including the head of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in Manicaland province, Innocent Chibaya, are accused of attempting to coerce state witnesses to withdraw their testimonies against supporters of State Security minister Didymus Mutasa, who were facing charges of violence.
Chinamasa’s lawyer said the minister had not been avoiding court.
“He is anxious to get it settled. He will definitely be in court and will deny the charges,” the lawyer said.
According to the state, the six accused persons promised monetary rewards to witnesses in exchange for the freedom of Mutasa’s supporters, including Makoni North chairman Albert Nyakuedzwa, who have since been imprisoned for three years for acts of violence.
This week, Nyakuedzwa was back at the High Court facing murder charges arising from a fatal assault of war veteran Wilson Mukono.
Violence was directed against James Kaunye and his supporters after he expressed a desire to challenge Mutasa in Zanu PF’s primary elections in 2004.
Chinamasa and the others are also accused of promising Kaunye that charges of attempted murder he was facing at the time would be dropped if Mutasa’s supporters were not prosecuted.
Assistance in setting up a cattle project and free services from the District Development Fund was also alleged to have been promised to the war veteran.
On July 3, the AG’s office said Chinamasa did not turn up as he had not been served with summons.
On the second occasion the prosecutor Levison Chikafu applied for a warrant of arrest and it was granted, only to be cancelled later through the intervention of Senior Public Prosecutor (Eastern Division) Florence Ziyambi, who said the AG had reached an agreement with Chinamasa to move the trial to August 1.
The agreement had not been conveyed to Chikafu, she added.
In previous interviews with the Zimbabwe Independent, Mutasa has said the case “will not go anywhere”.
He added that those behind it made a blunder by not consulting him first because he would have made them understand that Chinamasa and the others had no case to answer.