Judge recuses self from MDC officials' trial

HARARE - A High Court judge has recused himself from handling a bail application for four MDC officials accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act, claiming he once worked with three of the officers.

Justice Joseph Musakwa  transferred the case to Justice Chinembiri Bhunu.

“The judge has recused himself. He previously worked with three of the appellants when he was director of public prosecution and therefore the matter will be transferred to another judge,” said Chris Mhike, one of the lawyers representing the four, soon after meeting Musakwa in his chambers, yesterday morning.

The four — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s chief legal adviser, Thabani Mpofu, Felix Matsinde, Mehluli Tshuma and former Harare City councillor Warship Dumba — are also facing charges of possessing articles for criminal use and impersonating the police.

They were all remanded in custody to April 3 after magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa denied them bail saying they were facing serious charges and could abscond.

“The presiding magistrate seriously misdirected herself. In these reasons (for denying bail) one looks in vain what the magistrate took into account,” said Alec Muchadehama, who was representing the four together with Mhike and Phillipa Dube.

Muchadehama said seriousness of an offence was not a good reason for the continued incarceration of the four.

However, prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba said Gofa did not misdirect herself in making the bail determination.

Bhunu will deliver the bail ruling today. - Tendai Kamhungira

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