Newman Chiadzwa off the hook

HARARE - The Attorney General’s office has abandoned its appeal against a High Court judge’s ruling, ordering the freeing of businessman Newman Chiadzwa following allegations of  unlawful possession of diamonds in 2006.

The State’s application followed Justice Andrew Mutema’s 2011 decision, setting aside Chiadzwa’s conviction and sentence.

The ruling also quashed criminal proceedings that had resulted in Chiadzwa’s detention.

In January last year, Chiadzwa won a Supreme Court appeal authorising him to demand compensation for his diamonds that were confiscated by police following his arrest in 2006.

During the hearing, the State conceded that Chiadzwa had legal interests in the diamonds and should be accorded the right to pursue the case.

The State approached the Supreme Court yesterday, appealing against Mutema’s default judgment, claiming the Judge had erred.

However, judges Vernanda Ziyambi, Paddington Garwe and Bharat Patel said the State had no proper grounds for appeal, after it emerged that the core of the matter had been previously resolved by the Supreme Court by consent of both parties.

Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba withdrew the appeal, saying that had he known of the factual background, he would not have mounted the appeal.

“The appeal cannot be sustained. We are abandoning the appeal,” Nyazamba said.

In June last year, Albert Masamha from the Attorney General’s office had told the court that there were no valid reasons for Mutema to pass a default judgment.

“Applicant also notes that the court order on the criminal review by the honourable Justice Mutema was made without the concurrence of another judge as provided in terms of Sec 29 of the High Court Act (Chapter 7:06).

“Applicant strongly feels that the matter is supposed to be decided on merits rather than on unfounded technicalities,” reads part of the application.

Chiadzwa, through his lawyer Thabani Mpofu, had filed papers opposing the application, claiming the State was exhibiting malice.

“In the circumstances it is prayed that the court may be pleased to dismiss the appeal with costs. Given that these proceedings are senseless and are not designed to benefit the public interest,” Mpofu said.

Chiadzwa’s allegations arose in 2006 after he was found in possession of diamonds.

In 2010, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in jail and ordered to pay a $132 764 fine, before he successfully contested the ruling.

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