Zimbabwe Attorney General In A Pickle As Bennett Witness Denies Everything
Convicted arms dealer Peter Hitschamann arrives at the Harare High Court in Zimbabwe yesterday, 12 January 2010, to give evidence in trial of Roy Bennett, who faces charges of possessing arms of war and plotting an insurgency against Robert "The Solution" Mugabe. Histchmann stumped the Attorney General and is now being threatened with a perjury charge for not saying what the Zimbabwe AG wanted to hear.An immaculately-dressed Roy Bennett arrives at court for his trial earlier on the same day. As you can see from Hitschmann's photo above, Central Intelligence Organisation operatives were in attendance, watching and silently intimidating. It appears as if this did not help them (or the Attorney-General) much.Harare, Zimbabwe, 13 January 2010
He was supposed to be the States star witness, despite his protests, but when Peter Hitschmann, the gun-runner, appeared in a Zimbabwe court today, he denied that Roy Bennett had anything to do any of the charges being leveled against him.
Attorney General Johannes Tomana had fought Bennett's lawyers. led by Beatrice Mtetwa, who were asking for Hitschmann to be dropped as a State witness, saying his alleged confession had been extracted under torture.
The presiding judge ruled to allow the witness to be called.
Yesterday in court, Hitschmann denied that Bennett had anything to do with the arms that were found on Hitschmann's property and for which he served a jail term in Zimbabwe's prisons. He also denied that the e-mails said to have been exchanged between Bennett and himself were genuine.
The Attorney General of Zimbabwe is livid.
He will now go ahead to charge Hitschmann with perjuring himself in court.
But the damage has been done. This was the one witness upon whom the AG relied to convict Bennett. All the other witnesses, including the policemen who testified last year, are government officials, brought in more to make up the numbers and draw the trial out than for any tangible benefit to the State's case.
Which explains the State's irritation with the witness. But Hitschmann has said all along that he did not want to testify against Bennett because his "confession" was not valid. He went so far as to instruct his lawyer to write to the AG to tell him this, so that he did not embarrass himself. But the AG would not listen.
In fact, Tomana, the Zimbabwe Attorney General, responded by arresting the lawyer who had been asked to write the letter by Hitschmann in a classic case of shooting the messenger.
When an array of weapons were displayed in front of him in court as part of the consignment Hitschmann is alleged to have been keeping for Bennett's alleged insurgency against The Solution, Hitschmann disowned them all.
He said he had never met Roy Bennett, Tsvangirai's nominee for Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
The thinness of this case has now been exposed and it boggles the mind that Mugabe would rely on this antic to keep the man from taking office.
But we now know that the reason for his suffering has nothing to do with the case against him. He is persecuted because he is white. Mugabe himself admitted this openly and publicly at the ZANU PF Congress in December here in Harare.
He told his faithful that this country did not belong to the British or to the "Rhodesians". Specifically, he said this country "does not belong to the Roy Bennett's, even if they were born here."
Categorically, Mugabe told the world that as far as he is concerned, no white man could ever be a Zimbabwean, even his his family has been in Zimbabwe since the Pioneers first paddled across the Limpopo. Only a black person can be a Zimbabwean, was Mugabe's message.
As I explained to the Prime Minister in February last year, Mugabe will only stop pursuing Bennett when the Prime Minister withdraws him as his nominee for Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
The Prime Minister says Mugabe has no right to veto any of his choices for government positions allocated to the MDC in the Global Political Disagreement.
Problem is, Mugabe does indeed have the right under the current dispensation to level any charges against anybody and tie them up in court until they are black and blue from the assaults of the law.
Which is what he doing with Bennett.
Even if our increasingly confident judiciary acquits Bennett, I can assure you that another charge will be leveled against him, as I have previously explained. That charge is already waiting and it is the charge of smuggling diamonds to South Africa to finance the MDC.
Mugabe will try to keep Bennett in the courts until the end of this Inclusive Government.
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