HomePoliticsFirearm Exhibits not Hitschmann’s — Witness

Firearm Exhibits not Hitschmann’s — Witness

THE chief investigating officer in the case of MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett has admitted before the High Court that some of the firearms presented in court this week as exhibits were not found in the possession of the state’s key witness, Michael Hitschmann.

Bennett is on trial on allegations of possessing dangerous weapons and inciting acts of terrorism and insurgency.

Under cross examination from Bennett’s lawyer — Beatrice Mtetwa — Chief Inspector James Makone told the packed court room on Tuesday that two 9mm Uzi submachine guns he produced as exhibits were recovered from a Major Israel Phiri in Masvingo, not from Hitschmann.

According to the state Hitschmann, in testimony made when he was arrested on the same charge in 2006, implicated Bennett as the source of funds to purchase weapons for banditry and insurgency. Makone under cross-examination said part of the evidence implicating Bennett was found in emails downloaded from Hitschmann’s laptop.

In his evidence-in-chief, Makone had shown Justice Chinemberi Bhunu an array of firearms, which included AK 47s and FN rifles, Uzi submachines, tear-smoke canisters, ammunition and illuminating flares that he said were found in Hitschmann’s possession when he was picked up.

Mtetwa challenged Makone to say if the two 9mm Uzi submachine guns were found in the possession of Hitschmann to which the police officer answered in the affirmative.

Mtetwa then told Makone that police officers who testified in Hitschmann’s trial had told the court that the two firearms were recovered from Phiri.

“I made a mistake my Lord by including those two, they were actually recovered from Major Phiri,” Makone replied.

Yesterday, Makone was asked by Mtetwa why he produced 49 weapons as exhibits when in Hitschmann’s trial he testified that police had recovered nine which were not covered by a dealer’s licence.

Makone replied that the other “items” (weaponry) at Hitschmann’s trial were presented in court in the form of firearms only.

He expressed ignorance of the torture allegations made by Hitschmann despite their having been registered in “Entry 29” of the police diary.

In the diary it was recorded that Hitschmann was subjected to traumatic and unfriendly circumstances.
A memorandum written by the late Manicaland area prosecutor Levison Chikafu also raised allegations of torture against Hitschmann.

In the memorandum the prosecutor said he had been approached by the defence which informed him that Hitschmann was not feeling well and when he went to see him in prison he observed that “he was in severe pain and his legs were swollen and (he had) blisters on his buttocks”.

Mtetwa questioned the dominant involvement of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Zimbabwe National Army in the investigations and also asked why there was an absence of a contemporaneous inventory at the time of Hitschmann’s arrest.

The defence suspected that the state was deliberately suppressing information as it was refusing to give them Bennett’s police diary.

They also believed that the laptop recovered from Hitschmann was in the hands of the CIO and whatever information that was recovered could have been created by the spy agency.

The state is represented by Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.

The trial continues on Monday.


Wongai Zhangazha

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