Zim supreme court mulls Bennett appeal

Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court is considering whether to accept an appeal in the case of Roy Bennett, who was cleared in an alleged plot to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Bennett, a top aide to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was acquitted in May after a high court judge ruled the state had failed to connect him to a plot against Mugabe.

His trial is one of the major stumbling blocks facing the unity government between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who had tapped him as deputy agriculture minister. Mugabe has refused to swear him in until the case is resolved.

The move to appeal will extend the uncertainty over Bennett, prolonging the political tensions within the government.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku “has indicated that because the record is very bulky it will take him long to come to a decision”, Bennett’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told reporters after a three-hour, closed-door hearing.

“The matter has been postponed indefinitely,” she added.

Mtetwa said her client feels that he is being persecuted by political opponents.

“He feels that this is part of political prosecution. He is complaining about it,” she said.

The 53-year-old former farmer was Tsvangirai’s pick for deputy agriculture minister in the unity government with long-time rival Mugabe.

Prosecutor Chris Mutangadura told reporters that due the “voluminous submissions, the matter has been postponed indefinitely as the chief justice wants to read the submissions from both parties”.

Bennett was arrested in February 2009, shortly before he was to be sworn in, over accusations that he had funded a plot to topple Mugabe four years ago. — AFP

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