ZLHR ALERT: Tomana Appeals against Bennett's acquittal

"¦as passport vanishes

The Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana on Wednesday 12 May 2010 filed a Chamber Application in the Supreme Court seeking leave to appeal against High Court Judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu's decision to acquit Deputy Agriculture Minister-Designate, Roy Bennett at the close of the State's case.

Senator Bennett, who had been on trial since last October on spurious charges of insurgency, banditry, terrorism and sabotage, was acquitted on Monday after Justice Bhunu ruled that the State's prosecution team, led by Tomana, had failed to establish a prima facie case against the former Chimanimani Member of Parliament.

Leaving the courtroom after the judgment was handed down, Tomana had indicated that justice had been served and the decision would be respected; less than two days later, however, his position appears to have been reversed.

Chris Mutangadura - the chief law officer in the AG's Office who filed the application on Tomana's behalf - argued in his papers that Justice Bhunu had misdirected himself when he acquitted Bennett in that he assessed pieces of evidence in isolation rather than adopting a holistic analysis of the admittedly circumstantial evidence adduced by the State.

Mutangadura said Justice Bhunu had erred in adopting a piecemeal approach to evaluate the weight of evidence brought before him by the State, whose prosecution team was led by Tomana, assisted by Mutangadura and Florence Ziyambi, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the AG's Office.

The AG's chief law officer said the existence of a bank account in Mozambique in Peter Michael Hitschmann's name, the email communication between Hitschmann and Bennett, and the emails allegedly containing messages pointing to the funding of firearms acquisition all pointed to a conspiracy between the two men.

Mutangadura said Justice Bhunu's finding that the emails found on Hitschmanns' laptop were inadmissible was outrageous. He went on to state that his arguments had high prospects of success on appeal.

Meanwhile, Senator Bennett failed to retrieve his passport from the Mutare Magistrates' Court where he had surrendered it for safekeeping last year as a requirement of his bail conditions. He traveled to Mutare a day after his acquittal intending to collect his passport, but was informed that it had been signed out by Michael Mugabe, a law officer in the AG's Office, on 29 March 2010 for unknown reasons and without lawful authority.

Bennett's lawyers were, late on Wednesday 12 May 2010, working on an Urgent Court Application seeking the release of his passport.


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