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Biti’s Bail Release To Be Determined Today

HARARE provincial magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe is today expected to rule on whether or not MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti should remain in custody after defence lawyers yesterday filed an application for refusal of further remand on allegations of treason and three other charges.

 

A bid by the defence and the state to reach a compromise to have Biti granted bail collapsed yesterday after acting Attorney-General Bharat Patel rejected the proposal.

This, lawyers said, means the application for refusal of remand, which had been placed on hold, was readmitted into the court process, with Guvamombe expected to rule on it today.

Biti has been in police custody since his arrest at Harare International Airport on June 12.

One of Biti’s lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, told the Zimbabwe Independent that the defence team would wait for Guvamombe’s ruling today.

“There was nothing significant that took place at the AG’s office. We await the ruling on the refusal of remand by Guvamombe tomorrow (today),” said Muchadehama.

Biti’s lawyers yesterday placed before Guvamombe 11 complaints on the manner in which the police handled his arrest.

Lewis Uriri, leading five other defence lawyers, told the court that their client had been stripped of his dignity through the manner in which the police treated him during detention.

“It is my respectful submission that the form and context of my client’s arrest and subsequent detention was calculated to cause extreme shock, trauma, and horror and indeed to emotionally breakdown the spirit of the accused,” Uriri said.

“It was calculated at ensuring that he did not fully assert his fundamental human rights and dignity and made to appear as a criminal who has no rights at all.”

Biti faces four counts, one of treason and three others under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

On the treason charge, he is accused of authoring a document titled “The Transition Strategy” which the police allege was aimed at “discussing the overthrowing of a legitimately elected government”.

He is also charged with publishing or communicating statements prejudicial to the state through the announcement of the March 29 general election without permission from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

On the third count, Biti is accused of causing disaffection within the army by attempting to discuss the purging of senior army officials in case the MDC triumphed in the March 29 elections.

The state accuses Biti, in count four, of insulting President Robert Mugabe and insinuating that he should be taken to The Hague to face crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court yesterday struck off the roll an application by independent legislator Professor Jonathan Moyo challenging the fixing of the presidential election run-off date by ZEC.

The court made the ruling at the instigation of Moyo’s lawyer Job Sibanda who said he was yet to get instructions from his client.

“I seek for this matter to be removed from this roll as I have failed to contact the applicant in order to notify him of issues raised in the opposing papers filed by the respondents,” Sibanda said before Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and justices Paddington Garwe, Wilson Sandura, Luke Malaba and Misheck Cheda.

Virginia Mabhiza represented President Robert Mugabe who was cited as the first respondent in the application from the Attorney-General’s office.

By Nkululeko Sibanda

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