Canadian businessman Ari Ben Menashe said Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who he described as the future president of Zimbabwe, was nuts.
He apologised to the court but refused to apologise to Tsvangirai for the remark forcing the judge Paddington Garwe to adjourn the case until the following day.
Although Garwe strongly castigated Ben Menashe for his inappropriate and insulting language the Canadian businessman did not relent.
He accused the defence of dragging the case and complained that he was being asked to answer questions repeatedly.
Viewing cable 03HARARE484, TSVANGIRAI TRIAL: BEN-MENASHE STILL UNDER CROSS
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
070945Z Mar 03
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000484
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2013
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI TRIAL: BEN-MENASHE STILL UNDER CROSS
REF: A. HARARE 360
¶B. HARARE 313
¶C. HARARE 259
Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER KIMBERLY JEMISON FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) A
Summary. 1. (C) The treason trial of Movement for
(MDC) officials Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube, and Renson
Gasela resumed on March 3, after a one-week recess.
Cross-examination of the state,s star witness, Ari
Ben-Menashe, entered its seventeenth day on March 7. Court
time was divided between questioning Ben-Menashe about
portions of the infamous videotape and dealing with
Ben-Menashe,s conduct. The judge and the lawyers were
visibly tired of Ben-Menashe and the slow pace of the trial,
and the judge even met with the attorneys on more than one
occasion to discuss ways to speed it up. End summary.
Bizos Picks Apart Videotape
¶2. (U) Lead defense attorney George Bizos resumed his
cross-examination on March 3, after a one-week recess granted
at the behest of Ari Ben-Menashe. Bizos, questioning
focused on pointing out irregularities between Ben-Menashe,s
testimony and the videotape and on showing the court how
Ben-Menashe and his associates tried to entrap Tsvangirai,
Ncube, and Gasela. Bizos made it very clear that Tsvangirai
used the word “eliminate” only once, and only after ABM had
used it over and over again.
¶3. (U) Bizos asked Ben-Menashe to decipher the conversation
between him, his business partner Alexander Legault, and
purported CIA Deputy Director Simms when Tsvangirai and
Johnson left the room at one point during their December 2001
meeting in Montreal. Bizos also questioned Ben-Menashe about
passages in which Ben-Menashe pretended to be on
Tsvangirai,s side for the purposes of entrapment.
Ben-Menashe reiterated previous claims that Tsvangirai had
wanted Dickens and Madson to secure the CIA’s help in
assassinating Mugabe. He also claimed that, for the first
time during the trial and without any corroboration from the
videotape, Tsvangirai also planned to kill some of Mugabe’s
Ben-Menashe Wasting Court,s Time
¶4. (U) The court has spent an inordinate amount of time
arguing over Ben-Menashe,s compliance with court orders and
dealing with his over-the-top behavior. Before the recess,
Ben-Menashe was ordered to produce several documents
including a certificate of registration and financial data
for Dickens and Madsen (see reftel A). On March 3, Bizos
questioned Ben-Menashe about these documents and pressed the
court to find Ben-Menashe in noncompliance of the court order
to produce these items. On the morning of March 4, Presiding
Judge Paddington Garwe deliberated for more than an hour on
whether the documents Ben-Menashe provided complied with the
court order. At the end of the deliberations, Garwe decided
Ben-Menashe should explain what was produced and why some
things were missing. During the afternoon, Bizos argued once
more how Ben-Menashe was not in compliance.
¶5. (U) Court proceedings were held up several times because
of Ben-Menashe,s conduct. On the afternoon of March 5,
court adjourned half an hour early (before 16h00) as a result
of Ben-Menashe,s comments about Morgan Tsvangirai. During
the cross-examination, Ben-Menashe insulted Tsvangirai by
saying “The future president of Zimbabwe is nuts.” Bizos
told the court that he would sit down until the court
addressed the matter. Garwe cautioned Ben-Menashe to watch
his language, reminding him that they had been through this
before. Ben-Menashe then apologized, after which Bizos asked
if the apology were extended to his client. Ben-Menashe
replied no and Bizos insisted that an apology be extended to
his client forthwith. Garwe looked at his watch and declared
that court would adjourn until the following morning.
¶6. (U) The March 6 morning session opened with Garwe
strongly castigating Ben-Menashe. He made the following
–despite numerous warnings, the state’s witness continues to
use inappropriate and insulting language;
–in a court of law virtually everywhere in the world,
certain rules of decorum must be observed;
–lawyers are expected to behave according to the ethics of
–when a witness derides the accused, it is not acceptable
and contemptuous of the proceedings;
–I hope this final warning will suffice and be taken
Despite this castigation, Garwe had to instruct Ben-Menashe
during the afternoon session on March 6 not to call the
accused criminals but to refer to them as the accused.
¶7. (U) Court was held up again for half an hour during the
afternoon session on March 6 when Ben-Menashe asked the judge
to dismiss him from the stand and allow him to return to
Canada, claiming abuse from both the defense and the state.
Ben-Menashe argued that the state had a vested interest in
his being on the stand and that the defense was trying to win
through a technicality and that was why he had been
questioned for several weeks. Ben-Menashe also complained
about having to answer questions repeatedly and accused the
defense of prolonging the trial.
¶8. (U) Bizos emphatically rejected the suggestion that he
was responsible for the protracted trial and cited examples
where catering to Ben-Menashe had delayed the proceedings.
Deputy Attorney General Patel also rejected the suggestion
that he was trying to drag the trial out, citing examples
when he had objected to the defense,s line of questioning.
Garwe said he would make a ruling on the petition March 7,
but that Ben-Menashe would testify through the day.
Interest Dwindling and Patience Thin
¶9. (U) The week saw a marked decrease in the number of
visitors in the courtroom. The lower gallery was between
half and three quarters full. The upper gallery was
relatively empty before the recess. The press area has been
partially full with at least two-thirds occupancy. In
addition to dwindling interest, the two weeks of rain and
exasperation with Ben-Menashe could also factor into the
¶10. (U) Garwe is clearly getting fed up with Ben-Menashe (and
the slow pace of the trial), but still stopped short of
spelling out the consequences of inappropriate behavior. He
has tried to speed up the trial by discussing–so far,
without success–ways to do so with opposing attorneys in
¶9. (C) The judge and lawyers are visibly tired of dealing
with Ben-Menashe and the slow pace of the trial. Both Bizos
and Patel sigh loudly and show other signs of exasperation
when Ben-Menashe goes off on a tangent, as he does in his
responses to virtually every question. Earlier in the week,
defense counsel thought they would have completed the
cross-examination by March 5 but given the constant
interruptions and lack of cooperation by Ben-Menashe and
Garwe,s lack of control over the witness, the
cross-examination could go on for another week. End comment.