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Tsvangirai’s lawyers also thought he had been convicted

Lawyers for Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai thought that the judge in his case Paddington Garwe had found him guilty but the assessors disagreed with the verdict.

They reached this interpretation after they had been advised that judgement had been postponed because the assessors had requested full transcripts of the trial for further review.

The British government had already instructed its embassies in Pretoria and Abuja to approach the Zimbabwean government to seek engagement on Tsvangirai’s conviction.

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan told Father Fidelis Mukonori, a close confidante of President Robert Mugabe, that a conviction of Tsvangirai on such a flimsy case could only be regarded as a political verdict and would have serious repercussions.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE1224, LAWYERS ELABORATE ON TSVANGIRAI CASE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1224

2004-07-23 10:19

2011-08-30 01:44

SECRET

Embassy Harare

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

S E C R E T HARARE 001224

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2009

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: LAWYERS ELABORATE ON TSVANGIRAI CASE

 

REF: (A) PRETORIA 3333 (B) HARARE 1205 (C) HARARE 1201

 

Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s lawyers told

the Embassy on July 22 that the court advised them that

announcement of the verdict had been postponed until August,

date to be determined. The reason given was that the

assessors had requested full transcripts of the trial for

further review. The lawyers interpretation of this

development was that the judge had rendered a guilty verdict

with which the assessors disagreed. The lawyers knew little

of the identity of either assessor, although they thought one

was a retired brigadier (NFI).

 

2. (U) Under Zimbabwean law, each capital case is assigned

two assessors selected by the Minister of Justice, with the

concurrence of the Chief Justice and Judge President. The

assessors are selected from a pool of individuals deemed to

have experience in the administration of justice or skills

relevant to the particular case at hand but are not officers

of the court. The assessors hear the entire case. The facts

on which a guilty verdict is based must be agreed by the

judge and at least one of the assessors. The High Court Act

provides that the judge may dismiss an assessor if (s)he

determines that the assessor is unable to perform relevant

duties. In the event of dismissal or death of an assesor,

the judge and remaining assessor would have to agree on the

facts to support a guilty verdict. If they do not, the

defendant would remain in custody of the court or remain free

if already on bail, and could be tried again. While it may

be reasonable to assume the same outcome would would ensue

from a judge’s failure to elicit concurrence from either

assessor when both remain, the law appears to be curiously

silent on that more common scenario.

 

3. (U) Local lawyers were unaware of a case in which a

judge’s verdict had proceeded without the concurrence of

either assessor. In at least one case, however, no verdict

was rendered when neither assessor concurred, but it is

unclear whether that was required by law or merely reflected

the prevailing culture of jurisprudence at the time.

 

4. (S/NF) British charge told the embassy on July 23 that

London had instructed the British embassies in Pretoria and

Abuja to approach host governments and seek engagement on

Tsvangirai’s possibly wired conviction. She added that Jack

 

SIPDIS

Straw was following the matter very closely; she “expected”

him to make calls to Abuja and Pretoria on the matter but

emphasized that no final decision had been taken.

 

5. (C) At a meeting in his office on July 22, Ambassador

Sullivan emphasized to Father Fidelis Mukonori, Jesuit

Provincial of Zimbabwe and confidant of President Mugabe,

that a conviction of Tsvangirai on such a flimsy case could

only be regarded as a political verdict and would have

serious repurcussions for the GOZ at home and abroad. Father

Fidelis said he did not think that Mugabe would be involved

in ordering a conviction and that Mugabe would not allow a

death sentence to be carried out in any event. He undertook

to raise the matter with Mugabe when he saw him in the next

two weeks and report back to the Ambassador.

 

6. (C) COMMENT: That the GOZ would have not assured that at

least one of the assessors was within its control is

surprising. Nonetheless, the assessors appear to have thrown

an unexpected wrench into the works that may open a window of

opportunity for Obasanjo, Mbeki, and possibly others to weigh

in.

 

 

SULLIVAN

 

(4 VIEWS)

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