Biti demands magistrate's recusal

HARARE - MDC deputy national chairperson Tendai Biti has demanded that magistrate Gloria Takundwa recuses herself from presiding over his trial saying her independence is questionable.

Biti, through his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Alec Muchadehama, made the application yesterday after Takundwa dismissed his several applications.

Biti had filed an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to prosecute him and another of excerption saying the charges against him do not disclose an offence.

He also applied for further particulars, and challenged the splitting of the charges.

On Monday, Takundwa dismissed the applications and ruled that there is a prima facie case against the Harare legislator.

Mtetwa submitted that Takundwa had already rejected Biti’s defence outline and sealed his fate without leading any evidence.

“From your ruling, the State does not need to lead any evidence. Clearly, what is left is for you to announce a guilty verdict on both charges.

“Our request is that proceeding to trial before a judicial officer who has already rejected the accused’s defence outline is a clear breach of his right to a fair hearing,” Mtetwa said.

Mtetwa also sought Takundwa’s recusal on the basis that she “unfairly” issued a warrant of arrest against the former Finance minister on Monday.

Takundwa issued the warrant after Biti showed up in court in the morning but due to delays in court sitting, he left for the Supreme Court where he had a case to argue.

“Even the manner in which you dealt with the issue of warrant of arrest against the accused yesterday (Monday) shows incredible lack of impartiality on your part Your Worship.

This is because the accused came and explained his predicament but the court still issued the warrant. This is a proper case for Her Worship to recuse herself and a judicial officer with an unjaundiced view to take over the matter.”

Mtetwa also cited Takundwa’s decision to refer the matter to the High court last year for review after she said that she “erroneously” allowed the media to live-stream proceedings.

Takundwa referred it to the upper court but Joseph Musakwa refused to entertain the matter, saying she must live with the error.

“You referred the matter without seeking to reverse am impartial and independent decision you handed without seeking the view of the accused. I am not sure if you sought the views of the State.

From all these issues, a reasonable litigant will conclude that the accused person is not likely to receive any unbiased conclusion at the end of trial therefore it will be in the best interest of justice that you recuse yourself,” Mtetwa submitted.

Prosecutor Jonathan Murombedzi opposed the application saying it lacks merit

Murombedzi said the application for recusal suggests that Biti is not ready to be tried.

He justified the court’s decision to issue a warrant of arrest, saying no court can allow an accused person to dictate proceedings.

Murombedzi submitted: “What if the accused did not turn up in court? What would have happened? What guarantee was there that he was going to turn up?

The warrant was issued out of caution; therefore there is no basis upon which this court must recuse itself.”

Takundwa refused to recuse herself and the matter proceeded to trial yesterday.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.