Biti trial finally kicks off after failed bid to block prosecution

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By Staff Reporter

EMBATTLED MDC deputy national chair, Tendai Biti’s trial for allegedly breaching sections of the Electoral Act finally commences this coming month following an unsuccessful bid by the top politician to block his prosecution citing a number of legal reasons.

Biti is said to have fallen foul of the country’s electoral laws when he allegedly told the media soon after the July 30 elections that MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa was romping to victory in a poll that the young politician lost, according to official results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

He went into hiding when police sought to question him over the alleged offence, only resurfacing when he put up an unsuccessful bid to seek asylum in Zambia August.

Biti initially challenged the local courts’ jurisdiction to hear his case but to no avail.

The former Finance Minister also challenged his arrest but Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo ruled that he was a fugitive nabbed while trying to run away from his offences.

He then asked for temporary release of his passport but the request was turned down by both the magistrate’s and High Courts.

Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa Wednesday set November 12 as his trial date despite him having challenged proceedings before the same court.

Through his lawyer, Alex Muchadehama, Biti had complained that the date was randomly thrown at him.

Muchadehama needed another date convenient for his client but, prosecuting, Michael Reza attacked his case, saying the lawyer was the one who made the request first.

“I’m shocked by my learned friend’s requests. He is now asking for another date yet the defence counsel who was representing the accused last time gave notice to challenge further remand if not given a trial date. Now the state has done its part and is ready for the trial and they are now making other suggestions,” Reza said.

“It’s only the President who cannot be tried during his tenure but if he has any cases. He will answer to them the moment he leaves his post so the trial should proceed.”

Muchadehama then raised another point saying his client has approached the High Court to challenge the authority of the lower court to hear his case.

“We were applying that proceedings be stalled while we await the High Court’s determination on our appeal,” he said.

But Mugwagwa said that was for the trial court to determine.