Bere slams AG for misconduct

High Court judge Justice Francis Bere has uncharacteristically slammed Attorney General Johannes Tomana for attempting to influence the verdict in an appeal for the return of 8kg of diamonds forcefully taken by the police from a self-styled village chief.

Chief Newman Chiadzwa's appeal in the High Court for the return of his diamonds that were seized from him when he was arrested last year was thrown out by Justice Bere. In his judgement, Bere attacked Tomana for his unprofessional conduct of writing to him and trying to influence his verdict.

The judge said the dismissal of the appeal was in no way influenced by Tomana's futile attempts. The judge said Tomana must know the boundaries of proper prosecutorial conduct.

Chiadzwa was jailed for five years in 2010 and fined $132 000 for illegal possession of precious stones. The police took the stones as evidence and in June the High Court acquitted him.

Following his acquittal, he lodged an application in the High Court for the return of his diamonds, citing the police as the respondents. Although Tomana's office was not cited as a respondent, he proceeded to write to the judge to oppose the matter.

Justice Bere, one of the even-handed judges of the Zimbabwe High Court, slammed Tomana for engaging in misconduct and "desperate attempt to influence the

decision of the court by addressing the court through the back door".

“I am extremely concerned with the approach adopted by the Attorney General's Office in its effort to register its concerns or position in this matter," said Bere. "In my view, once a matter is placed before the court, where the other party by its inaction has been barred, there can be no direct communication with the presiding judge.

"Doing so would be an attempt to influence the decision of the court using unorthodox and unprofessional means. The AG's Office's approach was a desperate attempt to influence the decision of the court by addressing it through the back door. It is both unprofessional and unethical to do so," he said.

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