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Zimbabwe PM`s ally seeks new judge in trial

Last Updated: Friday, November 13, 2009 - 18:48

Harare: Defence lawyers for a top aide to Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have demanded the judge take himself out of the case because of bias towards the prosecution, a defence lawyer said on Friday.

Roy Bennett, a former white farmer who is treasurer to Tsvangirai`s party, is charged with terrorism over an alleged plot to overthrow President Robert Mugabe three years ago.

Defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said judge Chinembiri Bhunu should step aside because of comments he made in 2006 that appeared to show he already believed the prosecution claims.
"We have asked the judge to recuse himself and hand over the matter to another judge," Beatrice Mtetwa told reporters after meeting with Bhunu in chambers.

"In May 2006, he said this was a very serious case, and we feel this (remark) also affects Roy. Come Monday, he will decide whether to recuse himself or not," she said.

The same charges against other officials in Tsvangirai`s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have already been tossed out of court. Bennett could face the death sentence if convicted.

His arrest last month prompted Tsvangirai to stage a three-week boycott of the unity government.

Tsvangirai and his long-time rival formed the power-sharing government in February, nearly a year after disputed polls that saw Mugabe handed the presidency in a one-man run-off.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, November 13, 2009 - 18:48

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