'Biti's lawyer tortured'

HARARE - One of the lawyers representing MDC Alliance senior official Tendai Biti was allegedly tortured by police as he tried to pursue State agents who had seized the former Finance minister.

Unite Saizi of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had his car tyres deflated, cell phone confiscated and assaulted by State security agents who did not want him to keep track of the police convoy that was transporting Biti.

This was revealed by Biti’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa who appeared together with Alec Muchadehama and Gift Mtisi during continuation of a court challenge, in which Biti is arguing that the court has no authority to prosecute him.

Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo will hand down the ruling on August 30.

“Is it not true that a team of police officers that you travelled with intercepted Biti’s lawyer, punctured his tyres, disposed his cell phone and assaulted him to stop him from following the convoy you were travelling on?,” Mtetwa posed questions to investigating officer Jealous Nyabasa.

“…so it would be correct to say that police were involved in the raids at his residence and that of his mother, brother and friend such that the accused person perceived his life to be in danger and sought to apply for asylum in Zambia”.

Mtetwa added that Biti feared that he could be abducted and disappear, citing previous cases relating to Jestina Mukoko and missing activist Itai Dzamara.

Nyabasa disputed this, arguing that he was not aware of such violations.

He told the court that police’s conduct during the operation was lawful.

Mtetwa has already proved that Nyabasa had no deportation documentation authorising the extradition of Biti from Zambia more than a fortnight ago and had ignored the court order which showed that Lusaka High Court was due to hear the former Finance minister’s petition on August 8.

According to Mtetwa, a preamble to the warned and cautioned statement compiled by Nyabasa was dated August 8 to purport as though it had been issued before the Zambian order since Biti only signed it on August 9.

Nyabasa told the court that the date was a mistake and that he had not breached any deportation laws because he arrested Biti on Zimbabwean soil.

He claimed that Zimbabwean Immigration officials were the ones who handed Biti over to him and said he was not bound by any Zambian law or court order issued beyond Zimbabwe’s jurisdiction.

He then said he had a handover document which Mtetwa disputed saying it was endorsed as a handover document of “items” not people.

Biti is arguing that Zimbabwean courts do not have authority to prosecute him arguing that he was “abducted” from the Zambian government where he sought asylum under unconstitutional means.

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