PETER Michael Hitschmann, the former police reservist who was jailed after the discovery of an arms cache on his property, was released on Thursday and vowed not to be a state witness in the trial of Roy Bennett, the MDC Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate.
State prosecutors say Hitschmann is the key witness in the trial of Bennett, facing charges of attempting to commit acts of sabotage, banditry, insurgency and terrorism.
Bennettâ€™s trial will start on October 13 this year. He faces life in jail if convicted.Â Bennett dismisses the charges as politically motivated. But Hitschmann told journalists in Mutare he would not be a state witness in Bennettâ€™s case.
This will be a blow to the stateâ€™s case against the MDC treasurer as Hitschmann is the principal witness.
He said Bennett has nothing to do with the arms cache that was found on his property.
Hitschmann was initially charged with attempting to assassinate President Mugabe and key Zanu PF politicians in Manicaland. The charges were thrown out due to lack of evidence. He was then convicted on lesser charges of possessing arms without a licence.
He was sentenced to four years in jail but served three years and three months.
â€œI was surprised to hear that I was a state witness (in Bennettâ€™s case),â€ Hitschmann said. â€œI am certainly not going to be a state witness. I find it surprising.Â Bennett has nothing to do with it.â€
Hitschmann added: â€œHe has not been to my premises and there is no link between Bennett and the firearms.â€
He said he was forced to incriminate Bennett during torture by security agents.
Â â€œOn the night of 6 March 2006 we were taken to Adams Barracks where we were tortured and forced to make certain confessions and one of the confessions incriminated Roy,â€ Hitschmann said.
Adams Barracks is an army camp on the Mozambican frontier.
â€œAccording to that confession, Roy and I were plotting sabotage specifically of radio and communication equipment in the area of Bromley somewhere outside Harare.â€
Â He said some of the forced confessions were that he was plotting to assassinate President Mugabe as he celebrated his birthday in Mutare.
Hitschmann said he was also forced to confess that he was planning to assassinate key Zanu PF members in Mutare, Esau Mupfumi, a wealthy businessman and Enock Porusingazi, also a businessman and former MP for Chipinge South.Â â€” Own Correspondent.