Judgement on Hitschmann set for Tuesday (29-06-07)

From Sydney Saize

MUTARE - THE High Court in circuit here will on Tuesday next week deliver judgment in a trial case of former police constabulary, Peter Hitschmann, accused of allegedly attempting to assassinate President Mugabe.


tschmann, 46, is also accused of stocking large quantities of weapons of war for the purposes of insurgent, banditry, sabotage or terrorism.

The trial started last October and Justice Elfas Chitakunye said he would deliver judgment Tuesday.

Closing his submissions today Advocate Eric Matinenga, who is representing Hitschmann, said the court should disregard evidence by the State’s star witness Israel Phiri, a Major in the Zimbabwe National Army, on the grounds that it lacked corroboration.

Major Phiri, a senior instructor stationed at the All Battles Training Battalion in Nyanga, told the court Hitschnann enlisted him to join the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, a shadowy organisation that is accused of trying to forcibly and violently topple the government.

He said Hitschmann gave him the weapons including the ammunition to handover to a team of hired gunmen to carry out the assignments.

He said Hitschmann also hatched a plot to pour used engine oil on a portion of the highway at Christmas Pass, outside Mutare, so that vehicles in President Mugabe’s motorcade would skid.

The alleged assassination was to be executed on Mugabe’s 82 birthday
celebrations. The plan was never carried out because it had loopholes; the army
major told the court.

However Advocate Matinenga said Major Phiri’s evidence in chief lacked credibility.
“It is submitted that the evidence of Major Phiri was not clear and satisfactory in every material respect,” Advocate Matinenga said.

“He was generally a poor witness. He was arrogant in the witness stand (and) was evasive.”

Advocate Matinenga said Major Phiri failed to produce any material evidence to prove that Hitschmann indeed wanted to assassinate President Mugabe and that he did not prove the existence of the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, its membership and its structures.

“Importantly, the life of the Head of State was in danger (but) nothing was done or put in place to secure evidence against the accused despite the alleged knowledge by senior military personnel of these sinister events,” Advocate Matinenga said.

“It is highly improbable if not impossible that this matter would have been handled in a cavalier fashion described by Major Phiri. If true (we submit its not) whoever was involved needs to be court-marshaled for serious dereliction of duty.”

Trust Maanda instructed advocate Matinenga while Michael Mugabe represented the Attorney General’s office. Merrs Chidawanyika and Magorokosho were assessors- CAJ News

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