Biti’s Lawyers to Seek Condonation of Late Filing ofSupreme Court Appeal

bitiLawyers representing Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary-General Tendai Biti (pictured) will soon file a Chamber Application in the Supreme Court seeking condonation of late filing of an appeal challenging his prolonged detention on treason charges.

Bitis lawyers Sarudzayi Njerere and Advocate Lewis Uriri said they will ask the court to consider their application after the Supreme Court struck the matter off the court roll today, 18 October 2010.

Supreme Court Judge, Justice of Appeal Vernanda Ziyambi, who sat with Justice of Appeal Paddington Garwe and Justice of Appeal Misheck Cheda, refused to consider the matter after ruling that Bitis lawyers filed the appeal out of time.

The lawyers conceded that they filed the appeal on 10 July 2008 one day after the lapse of the 15-day period when Justice Samuel Kudya delivered his ruling in the High Court on 17 June 2008, which declared Bitis prolonged detention as lawful. An appellant is automatically barred from proceeding where an appeal is not filed within the stipulated time period.

Bitis lawyers filed the appeal in July 2008 seeking to overturn Justice Kudyas ruling which declared as lawful Bitis continued detention for five court-sitting days without being brought before the courts. The lawyers challenged the validity of Bitis detention for five days instead of being brought to court as stipulated in his warrant of apprehension which police relied upon to detain him and which clearly stated that he be apprehended and brought before the court of a magistrate.

Biti was arrested and detained by Assistant Commissioner Matema and Chief Superintendent Crispen Makedenge on 12 June 2008 at the Harare International Airport upon his arrival from South Africa.

Bitis treason case stemmed from a document police said was authored on 25 March 2008 allegedly linking the MDC Secretary-General to illegal change of government plans. Further charges of communicating or publishing falsehoods emanated from Bitis

announcement that his party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had defeated President Robert Mugabe in an election held in March 2008.

Official results later showed that Tsvangirai had indeed defeated President Mugabe in the poll, but lacked a clear majority needed to avoid a runoff election.

Both charges were withdrawn in February 2009 around the time that the MDC agreed to form a transitional coalition government with ZANU PF.

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