HomePoliticsKuruneri's lawyers plead with Msika

Kuruneri’s lawyers plead with Msika

Godfrey Marawanyika

LAWYERS representing detained Finance minister Chris Kuruneri have appealed for Vice-President Joseph Msika’s intervention concerning their client’s health.

face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The attorneys from Gollop and Blank discussed the issue with Msika after revelations that Kuruneri’s health had deteriorated. This came as Kuruneri was yesterday further remanded to August 5.

Msika confirmed that he had held telephone discussions with Kuruneri’s lawyers. He said he spoke to Abdullah Cassim, a senior partner at Gollop and Blank.

Msika said Kuruneri’s lawyers phoned to brief him on the jailed minister’s health condition. “He (Cassim) phoned to give me some information. I did not meet him,” Msika said. “Ini handisi kupindira nyaya iyoyi asi (I’m not involved in the case but) they just phoned me on the issue.”

Kuruneri has been fighting to get access to a private doctor since his detention in April on allegations of externalising foreign currency.

Kuruneri is represented by David Drury and Bruce Mujeyi, both of Gollop and Blank, and Advocate Chris Andersen, all of whom could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

Kuruneri has failed to secure bail at the magistrates court, in the High Court and the Supreme Court. His family and attorneys are worried about his health, an issue which was raised when he was first remanded in custody.

Last month a medical consultant recommended that Kuruneri be given access to “a proper hospital to try and control his blood pressure to avoid catastrophic complications”.

The physician who examined Kuruneri at the Remand Prison said the minister needed access to a proper hospital because his case was of “severe hypertension”.

The physician said when he saw Kuruneri, he was complaining of backache, a headache and general weakness. “The backache is not recent but the other symptoms started while in detention,” the physician said in a letter addressed to the prison medical officer. “He has not been on treatment and feels the headache is getting worse.”

This week Kuruneri was allowed to see a private doctor.

Kuruneri is accused of externalising US$500 000, £37 000 and 30 000 euros between 2002 and this year. The state alleges that he used some of the externalised funds to invest in a property in South Africa.

He also allegedly contravened a section of the Citizenship Act after it was found that he had two passports, which is illegal under Zimbabwean law.

He is the second high-profile politician to be arrested as part of government’s anti-corruption blitz. Zanu PF Central Committee member and businessman James Makamba was nabbed at the beginning of the year on charges of externalising funds and dealing in foreign currency.

Meanwhile, the trial of 70 suspected mercenaries accused of plotting to overthrow the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea has been postponed to Tuesday after defence lawyers attempted to streamline issues on the charge sheet to avoid a lengthy court hearing.

Defence lawyers were requesting the court to drop the Public Order and Security Act charge against the suspected mercenaries. The trial is being held in a makeshift court at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the defence team was trying to limit the time that the trial would take.

“Considering our clients have been in remand prison for painstakingly long, it is prudent for us to try to limit the issues in dispute,” said Samkange.

The men were detained after arriving at Harare International Airport on March 7 from South Africa, and charged with conspiring to carry out a coup in Equatorial Guinea with weapons bought in Zimbabwe. They were also charged with violating Zimbabwe’s immigration, firearms and security laws.

Lawyers for the men want the trial moved to South Africa as most of the suspects carry South African passports. They are concerned that if the trial proceeds in Zimbabwe they could face extradition to Equatorial Guinea, a country ranked by human rights groups as one of the world’s most repressive.

Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea have been working out details of extraditing the suspects. If the men are tried in Equatorial Guinea, they could face the death penalty.

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