Friday, February 20, 2009

Bennet refuses blanket amnesty

MUTARE – Roy Bennet, the incarcerated top MDC official, declined to be part of a deal in which he was to secure his freedom in return to a blanket clemency for anybody who committed human rights abuses from 2000.
Instead, Bennet said he would rather face trial than to be part of a deal that would see individuals who committed crimes against humanity walk scot-free.
Sources within the MDC and the police said Bennet declared he would want to see individuals that perpetrated crimes against humanity made to account for their actions.
Supporters of President Mugabe’s Zanu PF and security details stand accused of perpetrating human rights abuses since the 2000 bloody elections.
Hundreds have been killed and maimed while thousands were displaced as a result of the violence that has characterized elections in Zimbabwe since 2000.
But under a deal being worked out by the leadership of all the three political parties that are governing the country all those accused of human rights crimes and those in prison for “recruiting” people for “military training to forcefully remove” President Mugabe from office, will receive a blanket amnesty.
But Bennet has distanced himself from such an arrangement saying he would not want to be part to such a deal.
Sources said Elton Mangoma, a senior MDC official and a Cabinet Minister phoned Bennet while he was in police custody to assure him his freedom was imminent under the envisaged deal.
The sources said Mangoma phoned Bennet and told him he had spoken to Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, who had assured him the former white farmer would be freed under the amnesty deal.
“But Bennet told Mangoma he was against the deal and said he would rather face trial than to have people who killed and maimed Zimbabweans go scot-free,” said one source. “The police put him on speaker phone so they could hear the conversation.”
Bennet’s lawyer, Trust Maanda confirmed saying: “Bennet does not want to benefit from the sympathy of anybody by way of amnesty. He wants to be freed by the courts after a trial because he knows he did not commit the offence.”
Bennet is facing charges of attempting to commit acts of insurgency, banditry, terrorism or sabotage. He was remanded to 4 March 2009 after a magistrate rejected an application to remove him from remand.
“He (Bennet) wants to clear his name,” Maanda added, “He is saying he heard from other quarters that individuals who committed heinous crimes want to use him to get amnesty. If he gets amnesty they will also get a blanket amnesty for their heinous crimes.”
Under the envisaged deal Zanu PF militants, army and intelligence officers who committed crimes against humanity will not be arrested and prosecuted. These also includes individuals such as Joseph Mwale, the feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) detail, who masterminded the gruesome murder of two MDC supporters at Murambinda Growth point in Buhera during the run up to the 2000 elections. Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya were burnt to death after they were petrol bombed while campaigning for the MDC.
Mwale has evaded justice since then.
Hundreds other MDC supporters were to be murdered in subsequent elections held in 2002, 2005 and during the June 27 2008 presidential re-run.
Several thousands were maimed and displaced either after receiving threats or after their houses were set ablaze.
More were killed, maimed and left homeless after the government launched a bloody land “reform” programme in which Zanu PF supporters and sympathizers seized farmland from white farmers.
On the other hand MDC activists and sympathisers who are accused of “recruiting people for military training” outside Zimbabwe will also benefit from the deal.

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