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Tsvangirai regarded Mugabe a hero

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the court during his treason trial that he did not plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

He said that he was patriotic to his country and regarded Mugabe a hero of the liberation struggle.

Tsvangirai was on trial together with MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube and legislator Renson Gasela for plotting to assassinate Mugabe.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE124, TREASON TRIAL CONTINUES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE124

2004-01-22 13:06

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 000124

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI ZI MDC

SUBJECT: TREASON TRIAL CONTINUES

 

1.   (SBU) SUMMARY:     MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s

treason trial resumed in the High Court on January 19. The

defense concluded its direct examination of Tsvangirai on

January 22 and the case now moves to Tsvangirai’s cross-

examination by the prosecution. The trial will likely

conclude within weeks, although a court judgment may take

considerably longer with possible appeals to follow. A

sideshow to the trial revolves around the Government-

controlled Herald’s fabricated report that Tsvangirai’s

testimony had implicated the U.S. Government in a coup plot.

END SUMMARY

 

2.   (SBU) On September 22, 2003, the state applied to amend

its charges to correct the discrepancies between the

indictment and the evidence introduced at trial. The defense

opposed the state application, arguing that Tsvangirai would

suffer prejudice if the indictment were changed. In his

judgment January 19, Justice Garwe allowed the state to

alter its indictment in part. Garwe did not, however, allow

it to change all the elements of its indictment as

requested. Defense attorney Innocent Chagonda told us that

the changes that Garwe allowed were immaterial and would not

serve to prejudice Tsvangirai.

 

3.   (U) On January 19, the defense team began by putting

Morgan Tsvangirai on the stand. After testifying about his

history as a politician Tsvangirai told the court that he

did not plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe. He

testified that he was patriotic to his country and regarded

Mugabe as the hero of the liberation struggle. Since the

case resumed, public attendance has been relatively sparse,

with the courtroom generally being less than half full.

 

4.   (U) Proceedings January 22 began with a complaint

lodged by the defense over a front page story, “Tsvangirai

implicates US government in coup plot”, in the January 22

edition of the Government-controlled Herald newspaper.

(Note: Despite the breathtaking headline, the convoluted

story recounted no testimony or evidence to that effect but

only innuendo about Tsvangirai being interested in securing

American financial support. End Note.) Justice Garwe

agreed to consider the defense’s request that the Herald be

instructed to retract the story. After a full 45 minutes of

discussion on the Herald report, the defense resumed its

examination of the defendant, which it concluded by mid-day.

 

5.   (SBU) The case now moves to cross-examination of the

defendant, after which the defense plans to put MDC

Secretary-General Welshman Ncube on the stand. MDC

 

SIPDIS

Secretary for Legal Affairs David Coltart told us that the

 

SIPDIS

defense case would likely wrap up within weeks, but that it

was difficult to predict when the court would render

judgment. Coltart said he expected Garwe ultimately to

acquit Tsvangirai but would serve the government’s purposes

nonetheless by allowing the case to drag out as long as

possible and to highlight matters that would adversely

affect the MDC. He predicted that the case could drag out,

through appeals, through the year.

 

6.   (SBU)   COMMENT: It is too early to tell where the

case is going but the defense team appears to be confident

that it will prevail. For its part, the GOZ may care less

about winning and more about stringing the case out as long

as possible — bleeding the MDC through legal fees and

preoccupying its leadership in the process. In that

respect, it already is winning. On January 21, Coltart

appealed to a host of EU diplomats for financial assistance

to help pay the party’s legal fees for the treason trial and

the party’s petition to overturn the results of the 2002

election. (Note: Resumption date for the election petition

has not been set but may resume by next month.) According

to Coltart, the party already is behind in payment of USD

200,000 legal fees in the treason trial and USD 60,000 in

the election contest, with the lawyers unpaid for more than

four months.

(5 VIEWS)

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