Biti in High Court appeal against conviction and sentence over election results

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By Mary Taruvinga

MDC deputy national chairman Tendai Biti has approached the High Court challenging his conviction and sentence for contravening provisions of the Electoral Act.

The former finance minister had been charged with two counts of illegally announcing the results of the July 30 elections and then declaring MDC leader Nelson Chamisa winner of the crunch ballot.

For announcing the results Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa sentenced him to 7 days in prison with the option of a $200.

The second count drew a wholly suspended sentence on six months’ imprisonment.

However, through his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Alec Muchadehama, Biti said the magistrate mis-directed herself.

“The magistrate grossly erred in convicting and sentencing the accused,” said Mtetwa in the High Court appeal.

“The magistrate also misdirected herself in failing to consider pre-trial violations of the accused rights and the legality of his arrest.”

The opposition politician was arrested as he tried to seek refuge in Zambia in the deadly aftermath of the disputed July 30 elections.

Six people were killed, and several others injured after the government used lethal force against opposition activists demonstration in central Harare.

Biti insists that he was unlawfully before the local court as he was “abducted” by State agents from Zambia.

It is his defence that he was supposed to appear before a Zambian court the day he was arrested, adding that there is a Zambian High Court order to confirm that position.

He is also arguing that magistrate Takundwa had no jurisdiction to hear his case.

In his application, Biti also said he announced official results which were first posted outside polling stations by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).