Biti trial fails to take off
The trial of MDC-Alliance vice president Tendai Biti on allegations of manhandling a Russian national during an altercation outside Harare Magistrates Court hit another brick wall yesterday after his lawyer claimed that his client was self-isolating after getting into contact with a Covid-19 positive person.
Mr Alec Muchadehama tendered to the court a letter from certain lawyers which claimed that indeed Biti had met a person who later tested positive to Covid-19.
The lawyer told Harare magistrate Mrs Vongai Guwuriro-Muchuchuti that Biti was within the court premises in the car park but could not be in court since he was self-isolating.
Senior prosecutor Mr Micheal Reza, who is prosecuting the matter together with Mr Tafara Chirambira, applied for a warrant of arrest against Biti arguing that he was supposed to appear in court since he was warned to do so.
“We do not know whether the accused tested positive to Covid-19 or not. A letter from lawyers cannot be a substitute of Covid-19 results,” he said.
Mr Reza’s application prompted Mr Muchadehama to ask for a brief adjournment in order to bring Biti in court.
When the court resumed, Biti went into the dock and the matter was then remanded to July 28 for trial.
Biti recently had his application for the recusal of Mr Reza dismissed because of lack of merit.
In her ruling, Mrs Guwuriro said the court was not convinced that Mr Reza was likely to affect fairness in the trial.
“The defence provided nothing before the court which proved that Mr Reza was likely to prosecute unfairly in this trial,” she said.
She further ruled that the defence did not provide reasonable grounds why Mr Reza should be recused from the matter.
It is the State’s case that Ms Tatiana Aleshina was allegedly insulted and assaulted by Biti outside the courtroom but within the complex premises.
Ms Aleshina filed a report with the police and has also lodged two further complaints with the Law Society of Zimbabwe.
Ms Aleshina wants Biti investigated for alleged gross unprofessional conduct and alleges she and her workmates were intimidated and verbally abused outside the court each time they came for proceedings.
Ms Aleshina is one of the witnesses in case involving building contractor George Katsimberis who is alleged to have defrauded a land developer with whom he had entered into a joint venture to build cluster houses in Harare’s Borrowdale suburb.
In the matter, Katsimberis is accused of using plans that were not approved by council which led to the show house being demolished.
Ms Aleshina is the chief operating officer of the land developer.
She claims that on November 30 last year as she was about to leave the court gallery after a court session, Biti allegedly threatened to harm her.
“It was clear to all people who were in the court gallery that Biti took delight not only in verbally abusing me, but in trying to intimidate me and felt that, as a woman and foreigner of Russian origin, he would use every extra judicial means to crush me or harm or destroy me for daring to be a witness in the criminal matter against his client,” she stated in her complaint.