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NPA in Mawarire treason trial mistake

by Staff reporter
25 Jun 2019 at 07:48hrs | Views
The National Prosecution Authority (NPA) was embarrassed after it erroneously assigned the case of cleric Evan Mawarire and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union president Peter Mutasa - who are being charged with treason, to a regional court oblivious of the fact that the charge was a third schedule offence which could only be tried by the High Court.

Mawaraire and Mutasa appeared before regional magistrate Jessie Kufa for trial yesterday, but prosecutor Ephraim Zinyandu sought further postponement, saying the matter was erroneously referred to the regional court for June 24 and 25 as trial dates.

Mawarire and Mutasa are accused of plotting to topple a constitutionally-elected government after they allegedly recorded videos, urging the public to engage in a stay-away against fuel price hikes in January this year.

"This matter was erroneously remanded to the regional court for trial today (yesterday), yet cases of this nature are heard at the High Court. The court may refer the matter back to remand court while they await indictment," Zinyandu said.

But the accused's lawyers, Tonderai Bhatasara and Alec Muchadehama opposed application for a postponement and filed an application for removal from remand, saying the State was deliberately delaying their clients' trial.

Bhatasara said when the two appeared on March 19, prosecutors indicated that investigations were complete and the docket had been sent to the Prosecutor-General's Office for perusal, with the court granting a further postponement to April 25.

"On April 25, the State gave two days trial. There is no error that occurred. The State had two months from April 25 to prepare indictment papers. It is not competent for a matter that has been set down for trial to go back to remand court," Bhatasara said.

"This is a clear demonstration by the courts to oppress the accused person. The State will suffer no prejudice if the accused are removed from remand and proceeds by way of summons. The State cannot say they have to record statements from four witnesses, this case is premised on the video which they allegedly published and why do they need four people and to testify what?"Muchadehama said.

However, Zinyandu said there was no undue delay in prosecuting the pair which warranted removal from remand and will be premature for the court to remove the accused persons from remand.

Kufa remanded the matter to today for the ruling.

Source - newsday