Agents tortured gun-dealer till he passed out: Lawyer

roy_bennet1HARARE Zimbabwe state agents tortured a gun-dealer until he passed out in a bid to make him confess to working with a top ally of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, the High Court heard on Tuesday. (Pictured: ROY BENNETT . . . accused o

The state accuses Roy Bennett treasurer in Tsvangirais MDC-T party of plotting to overthrow Mugabe and that he gave money to firearms-dealer Peter Hitschmann to buy weapons to be used to assassinate the veteran leader. Hitschmann, who is yet to testify, is the states star witness against Bennett.

But Bennetts lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, told the court that police tortured Hitschmann until he lost consciousness to force the gun-dealer into making a confession implicating her client.

“His (Hitschmann) belt was removed and underpants were taken off . . . he felt a burning (sensation) from his buttocks and blacked out,” Mtetwa said, while cross examining police officer Michael Joseph Nyakatawa who was part of a team of security agents who arrested Hitschmann about three years ago.

Nyakatawa, however, maintained the state line that Hitschmann was never tortured or assaulted and that he had willingly confessed to sourcing weapons for Bennett for use to commit treason.

The state seeks to prove to court that guns and other weapons found at Hitschmanns home were intended for use to assassinate Mugabe and that they were bought with money supplied by Bennett.

But Hitschmann was found not guilty of treason in an earlier ruling by the High Court which also found that some of the weapons seized from the firearms-dealer were lawfully in his possession.

Hitschmann has also claimed that investigators tortured him in a bid to obtain from him statements that could incriminate Bennett, while investigators have failed to prove existence of an account allegedly held by Hitschmann at a Mozambican bank and into which the state claims money to buy weapons was deposited.

The police have also conceded that some of the guns that the state claims were bought with money supplied by Bennett were actually recovered from the home of an army officer.

The police say guns found from the army officers house were mistakenly included among the lot recovered from Hitschmanns house.

But Mtetwa accuses the state of falsifying evidence and deliberately inflating the number of weapons recovered from Hitschmanns house in a bid to secure Bennetts conviction.

The case that has heightened tensions in Zimbabwes fragile unity government continues today.

Post published in: Politics

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