Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Magistrate rules Bennet has case to answer

MUTARE – A provincial magistrate here has ruled there are enough reasonable grounds to suspect Roy Bennet, the incarcerated top MDC official, has a case to answer.
Livingstone Chipadze ruled that Bennet should not be removed from remand on charges of contravening Section 10 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) or the alterative charge of possessing firearms without ministerial authority.
He is alleged to have stockpiled weapons for the purposes of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism.
The magistrate ruled there are reasonable grounds to suspect Bennet worked in common cause with Peter Michael Hitschmann, the police constabulary already serving a four year jail term for a similar offence.
Bennet was remanded in custody to Mach 4 this year. There was a deafening silence in court after the ruling. Bennet, clad in prison torn prison garb, remained clam throughout the process. He, however, looked distressed and tired. He shook his head after the magistrate delivered the ruling.
His lawyers will now have to apply to the High Court to get bail.
But Bennet was cleared on lesser charges of contravening immigration laws when he allegedly attempted to leave the country for South Africa on February 13 without presenting him selves to an immigration officer.
Tension is building up in this eastern border city. Armed police are patrolling the streets supported by two water cannons.

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