HomePoliticsExhibits Could Have Been Tampered With –– Bennett Defence

Exhibits Could Have Been Tampered With –– Bennett Defence

THE police had no full control of exhibits during arms dealer Michael Hitschmann’s trial in 2006, raising concerns that they could have been tampered with by Central Intelligence Organisation and Zimbabwe National Army officers, the High Court heard this week during the trial of MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett.

Bennett is in court facing terrorism-related charges after Hitschmann allegedly implicated him in the buying of arms of war to destabilise the country.

Defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa on Wednesday said she was concerned that the state’s third witness, Detective Superintendent Arnold Dhliwayo, had no knowledge of how Hitschmann’s laptop was moved from the exhibit office to the office of the police officer commanding the province (Propol).

Mtetwa also raised concern over how firearms discovered from the arms dealer were transported from his house to Adams Barracks without a full contemporaneous inventory done by Dhliwayo.

The state is claiming that Hitschmann implicated Bennett through emails that were downloaded from his laptop and statements he made to the police.

However, the arms dealer disowned the statements saying he made them after being tortured.

An information technology expert, Denford Mutsetse, whom the state wanted to be its witness, declined saying the emails could have been created by anyone.

Under cross examination by Mtetwa, Dhliwayo insisted that the police were in full control of the exhibits and Hitschmann although they were at Adams Barracks.

“We got assistance from other officers and took charge of the exhibits,” Dhliwayo said. “We took control of the keys from the army.”

But Mtetwa did not buy Dhliwayo’s explanation.

“How did this laptop walk from the exhibit office to the Propol’s office without your knowledge? I am concerned,” said Mtetwa. “You arrived with Hitschmann (at the Propol’s office), everybody is there with the laptop and you had no idea what they had been doing with it up to that point. You don’t know what fiddling could have been done with the laptop?”

The court also heard that when Dhliwayo arrived at Hitschmann’s house on March 6 2006 with police officers and state security agents, he did not make a contemporaneous inventory of the firearms. Instead the firearms were only “properly” recorded at Adams Barracks after they had been transported from the arms dealer’s house.

Mtetwa said the state had failed to produce evidence that implicates Bennett on allegations of possessing dangerous weapons and inciting acts of terrorism and insurgency.

The trial continues today before Justice Chinembiri Bhunu with the state’s fourth witness, Inspector Lazarus Zivengwa, giving evidence.

Meanwhile, the High Court on Wednesday granted the state leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the granting of bail to MDC-T transport manager Pasco Gwezere who is facing allegations of unlawfully entering Pomona Barracks and stealing arms of war; and undergoing military training in Uganda in order to destabilise the country.

The court had last week granted Gwezere US$500 bail but he remained in custody after the state indicated it wanted to seek leave to appeal against the ruling.

The state alleges that Gwezere working in cahoots with a Gertrude and several army officers broke into Pomona Barracks on October 20 and stole 20 AK47 rifles and a shotgun.

The firearms have since been recovered.

Three more people have been arrested in connection with the case. One of the people, Stanley Marange, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, while the two others would appear before a court martial.

The state further alleges that Gwezere on July 31 1999 to October 13 1999 underwent military training at Soroti Training camp in Northern Uganda acting in concert with Ernest Chihombori, Matthew Musokeri and Thandiwe who are MDC-T activists, to destabilise the government upon their return.

The defence denies the accusations against Gwezere.

 

Wongai Zhangazha

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