‘Expert witness’ in Bennett case merely a general hand

AN information technology “expert witness” in the treason trial of MDC treasurer-general Roy Bennett was this week discredited by the defence as an amateur who could not give a valid opinion.

The defence on Wednesday further said the expert –– Perekayi Denshad Mutsetse –– did not have appropriate qualifications as he had only obtained two “O” Level subjects and that his job at Africom was equivalent to that of a general hand.

Mutsetse was called in by Attorney-General Johannes Tomana to give expert evidence on e-mails the state says reveal Bennett and arms dealer Peter Hitschmann’s plot to destabilise the country.

Tomana had told Justice Chinembiri Bhunu that Mutsetse was employed by Africom as a provincial engineer, but lead defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa disputed that position.

She said Mutsetse was a local area technician, one of the lowest ranks at Africom.

The expose’ led Tomana yesterday to ask Bhunu to be allowed to bring in another information technology expert. But Mtetwa would have none of that.

“It is very clear that the state cannot build this case,” she said in objection to Tomana’s request. “This is no longer a prosecution but persecution.”

It emerged during court proceedings this week that contrary to Mutsetse’s claims, he never worked at the defunct PTC as a technician between 1995 and 1999. Instead, the former parastatal employed him as a general hand between 1996 and 1998.

Mtetwa produced Mutstse’s educational transcripts and certificates and CV to prove to the court that he was not an expert as he claimed.

Mutsetse claimed to have a certificate in data communication from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and another in CCNA from Africa University (AU). He also said he had a first level technician’s qualification from City and Guilds.

The “expert” astounded the court when he said he did not know what hackers and computer forensics were when asked by the defence.

“They don’t exist. Where are they trained? I don’t know them, it’s the first time to hear of that,” he said.

Mutsetse declined to spell the organisational structure at Africom saying the issue was confidential.

Mtetwa then said: “Technician LAN (local area network) is the lowest rank in the entire structure of your organisation. It is similar to that of the madhaka boy if it is in building. The reason you refused to give the organisation structure is that the structure does not have a provincial engineer. Even if it was there you wouldn’t qualify because you don’t have a diploma and you have no qualifications from the UZ and AU.

“The structure has at the top chief operations officer, a ram of six persons who are global support managers, implementation engineer, product engineer network services, product engineer internet services who would have been the expert in giving information in this court regarding the e-mails, then the business operations manager.”

When asked what tools as an expert he would use to confirm the authenticity of the alleged e-mails between Bennett and Hitschmann, Mutsetse said: “I told the police that the document (bunch of e-mails) was genuine. It is genuine because it shows the e-mail addresses (hush mail) from the sender to the receiver. The documents also have https at the bottom showing they were printed from the original inbox.”

He admitted that he was not present when the e-mails were printed. The defence yesterday objected to the calling in of Forgive Munyeki, a security officer with TelOne, as a state witness arguing that his evidence was irrelevant and speculative.

The state alleges that Bennett and Hitschmann in the e-mails conspired to destabilise the country, among other things, by bringing down the Microwave Link at Idhara Repeater Station at Melfort, Goromonzi. Munyeki was expected to give evidence whether there is a microwave link at Melfort and the extent of the damage that would have occurred if destroyed.

“Before the witness gives evidence my learned friend must place evidence before the court to show that the accused was involved in any conspiracy to destroy the microwave link,” Mtetwa said. “There is no evidence to link the accused to exhibit 13 (e-mails), and no evidence to prove the truthfulness of the e-mails. It is clearly dishonest.”

Justice Bhunu is expected to rule on both the objections on Monday.

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