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Judge frees seven arms cache defendants

Judge Charles Hungwe on 14 March withdrew charges against all seven suspects linked to arms caches in Mutare except Michael Peter Hitschmann because the arrests were unlawful.

Hungwe also said that the police had conducted the investigation unprofessionally by beating some of the suspects.

The suspects included Movement for Democratic legislator Giles Mutsekwa, two MDC activists, three police officers and an army captain.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 06HARARE319, JUDGE FREES SEVEN ARMS CACHE DEFENDANTS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE319

2006-03-15 16:48

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO9618

RR RUEHMR

DE RUEHSB #0319 0741648

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 151648Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9749

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1155

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0987

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1159

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0015

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0419

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0779

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1213

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3557

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0985

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1613

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1370

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000319

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2015

TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: JUDGE FREES SEVEN ARMS CACHE DEFENDANTS

 

REF: HARARE 317 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Eric T Schultz under Section 1.4

b/d

 

1. (C) Ruling that police had acted improperly, High Court

Judge Charles Hungwe on March 14 withdrew charges against all

suspects linked to the arms cache discovered in Mutare last

week, except for Michael Peter Hitschmann (reftel). The

seven were released the morning of March 15. Zimbabwe

Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe ) who

along with Trust Maanda had been representing several of the

accused – gave post a copy of the ruling (emailed to AF/S)

that released MDC MP Mutsekwa and MDC activists Nyamhoka and

Sibanda. ZLHR director Arnold Tsunga on March 15 confirmed

that the other four suspects ) three police officers and an

army captain ) were also freed. In making the strongly

worded ruling, Hungwe declared that the arrests were unlawful

and that the police had conducted the investigation

unprofessionally by beating some of the suspects.

 

2. (C) Tsunga said that lawyers representing the accused had

earlier begun to suspect that Hitschmann ) who was being

treated as a state witness, according to Hungwe’s ruling –

was actually working for the police and had falsely

implicated the other suspects. They therefore agreed not to

represent the former volunteer policeman, nor did they apply

for his release.

 

3. (C) Meanwhile, Tsunga confirmed that MDC former MP Roy

Bennett fled Zimbabwe earlier this week to London (not to

South Africa, as headlined in the state-controlled Herald

newspaper March 15) after he had been subjected to intense

media speculation and a police search. Tsunga reported that

Bennett was planning to return to Zimbabwe now that Justice

Hungwe had released the others. Tsunga was unaware of the

timing of Bennett’s return.

 

4. (SBU) Apparently unrelated to the weapons seizure, police

on March 14 arrested Anti-Senate MDC MP Timothy Mubhawu, who

represents the Harare high-density suburb of Tafara-Mabvuku,

for allegedly violating a section of the Public Order and

Security Act (POSA) against insulting the president.

According to the Herald, Mubhawu gave a ride to several

soldiers in Harare earlier this month. As the soldiers

disembarked from the MP’s vehicle, Mubhawu reportedly asked

them “why do you let Mugabe let you suffer?”

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

5. (C) The GOZ’s apparent plans to disrupt the MDC Congress

this weekend have hit a surprise &oil spill.8 They had

successfully locked up one Morgan Tsvangirai-aligned MP,

charged another under a law that carries a life sentence, and

driven a third out of the country. Justice Hungwe’s ruling,

however, effectively scuttles these efforts and serves as a

refreshing reminder that there remain some independent

justices despite years of ZANU-PF hounding. Moreover,

Hungwe’s exposure of the GOZ’s ham-handed attempt to frame

opposition activists on assassination charges yields a

sizable victory to the Anti-Senate MDC at a crucial time as

it attempts to re-energize its constituents and refurbish its

credibility with the public.

SCHULTZ

 

(7 VIEWS)

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