Zimbabwe’s Bennett lawyers dispute e-mail evidence


Lawyers for Zimbabwe politician Roy Bennett disputed yesterday a state witness’ evidence backing up emails linking Bennett to a terrorism plot, saying he was not suitably qualified to declare their authenticity.

Bennett’s arrest and trial has raised tensions within the power-sharing government formed by Mugabe and his bitter rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, last February.

A close ally of Tsvangirai, who was nominated for the post of deputy Agriculture Minister in the new government, Bennett faces a maximum death sentence if convicted. He, however, denies the charges and says he is being persecuted by Mugabe’s party.

The state’s case that Bennett planned to fund a 2006 plot to blow up a major communications link and assassinate key government officials hinges on emails prosecutors say links the former commercial farmer to the crime.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana brought in an IT network technician to give evidence on the validity of the emails.

But under cross examination, the technician, Perekai Mutsetse, said he had not seen the original emails, and was only shown printed documents by the police.

Bennett’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who argued that anyone could have created the e-mails to implicate Bennett, said the witness had failed to prove that the emails were genuine.
“Since you did not see the original email, you cannot vouch for their authenticity,” Mtetwa said.

Speaking through a translator, Mutsetse admitted not conducting a forensic analysis to establish the authenticity of the emails.
“You have absolutely no expertise in the field you claim to be an expert,” Mtetwa said.

Bennett’s alleged co-conspirator, former policeman and arms trader Peter Hitschmann, has disowned the emails and denied Bennett was involved. Hitschmann faced the same charges as Bennett in 2006, but was convicted on a lesser charge of possessing dangerous weapons.

Source: www.af.reuters.com