January 13, 2005

Tsvangirai treason trial postponed

A Zimbabwe court has postponed a second treason trial of Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, pending a state appeal against his acquittal on an earlier charge of plotting to kill Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe president. In October 2004 the High Court found Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), not guilty of plotting to assassinate Mugabe and seize power before 2002 presidential elections. The state later applied to the Supreme Court to contest the acquittal, but the matter has yet to be heard. A Harare magistrate's court adjourned to May 24 a case in which Tsvangirai is charged with trying to force an elected government out of power through street protests in June 2003. His lawyer Chris Mhike said after the brief court session that the defence would apply for a dismissal of the case against Tsvangirai when the matter resumed. The first treason case rested on a secretly taped video of a Montreal meeting between Tsvangirai and political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe, at which prosecutors said Mugabe's "elimination" was discussed. High Court Judge Paddington Garwe said the prosecution had not shown beyond reasonable doubt that Tsvangirai had sought Mugabe's assassination and a coup d'etat. (SABC News, South Africa)

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