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Tsvangirai ruling deferred

Gift Phiri

THE High Court yesterday postponed indefinitely judgement on the treason trial of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is facing charges of plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe. <

Justice Paddington Garwepostponed judgement after taking into consideration concerns by assessors Major Misheck Nyandoro and Joseph Dangarembizi. The judgement was supposed to be handed down next Thursday.

Defence lawyer Innocent Chagonda yesterday said: “Assessors have asked for a transcript of the proceedings, once they are ready they will let us know.”

Tsvangirai was charged with treason in February last year for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mugabe ahead of the 2002 presidential election.

The charges hinge on a secretly videotaped meeting between Tsvangirai and Ari Ben-Menashe, president of a Canadian-based public relations firm, Dickens and Madison, in which the idea of “eliminating” Mugabe was brought up.

Defence lawyers have argued since the opening of the trial that the videotape on which the alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe was based was defective and could not be relied on.

They also point to the suppression of the audiotape and transcript that was presented in court. Defence lawyers also argue that the tape was missing its first 10 minutes, a defect that the state blamed on a faulty battery.

Tsvangirai says the government trumped up the treason charges against him in a bid to discredit him ahead of a presidential election in 2002.

Tsvangirai is also facing another treason charge arising from organising the “final push” in the middle of last year. He is on remand on that charge.

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