HomeBusiness DigestI’m not trying to save Bennett — Hitschman

I’m not trying to save Bennett — Hitschman

THE chief state witness in the trial of MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett, Michael Peter Hitschman, yesterday denied accusations he was being inconsistent in court to save the deputy Agriculture minister-designate from terrorism charges.

Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, who intends to impeach Hitschman, accused the arms trader of departing from his previous statements made in court in 2006 where he allegedly implicated Bennett in terrorism.

Hitschman, Tomana alleged, also implicated Bennett through emails the state downloaded from his laptop.
Earlier, the defence led by Beatrice Mtetwa had objected to the use of the statements arguing that they were made by Hitschman while in custody under traumatic and unfriendly circumstances. She said the statements were not meant for Bennett’s case.

Tomana showed the court written and video statements allegedly made by Hitschman on March 6 and 7 2006, which he said the arms dealer was now refuting in the Bennett trial.

He said: “At this stage I wish to inform the court that the evidence that has been adopted as the truth by the witness has the effect of endangering the state case or prejudicing the state case in that it is clearly a departure from the state case.

“It is the state’s view that the witness is deliberately being adverse to the state case review to unlawfully shield the accused person. The state opts not to abandon pursuing the truth from this witness and therefore would like to discredit his evidence before this court through being able to put cross-examining questions to the witness.”

Tomana cited alleged examples of the inconsistencies.

He said Hitschman in 2006 said he had sourced weapons from Bennett and some white farmers, but in the current trial claimed to have got them from white farmers leaving the country.

In the video, Tomana argued, Hitschman mentioned his link with Bennett but in court denied any contact with the MDC treasurer-general.

However, Hitschman told Justice Chinembiri Bhunu — who is trying Bennett — that what he told the court was the truth. He disowned the three statements he made in 2006 during his trial, saying he made them after being tortured.

He maintained that he remained consistent in court in denying that he sold arms of war as alleged by Tomana.

Hitschman told the court that he was arrested procedurally by Superintendent Arnold Dhliwayo and James Makone, but when he was taken to his premises in Mutare everything “went to the winds”.

He said: “I indicated to the arresting officers that I would like to exercise my right to have my legal counsel present so that a detailed itemised inventory could be taken. I repeated the request often as did my wife and we were repeatedly denied.”

Hitschman said despite the requests, a large number of security agents ransacked his house and the garage completely disregarding officers Makone and Dhliwayo’s request that an orderly search be conducted.

He also cited improper procedures in the recording of the video for indications.

Hitschman said: “The court would have noticed that the video shown was not filmed at the so-called scene, it had numerous cuts. I do not know the identity of the people who took the video, the suspect (myself) has not commented on whether or not he is co-operating freely with the filming of the video, the light conditions are such that my face can’t be clearly seen. It is difficult to discern whether the person in the video had any facial injuries or other injuries.”


Wongai Zhangazha
Bennett’s trial was adjourned to Monday.

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