THE High Court has set aside proceedings in the case of attempting to defeat the course of justice against heads of the Central Intelligence Organisati
on (CIO) in Manicaland and Rusape, Innocent Chibaya and Denford Masiya respectively, after granting an application seeking the recusal of a Rusape magistrate.
The CIO officers together with Rusape district administrator Eric Charinga and two others were initially being charged with Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa but their trials were separated.
The separation came after Rusape magistrate Loice Mukunyadzi recused herself from trying Chinamasa saying magistrates had been intimidated by National Security minister Didymus Mutasa.
Mukunyadzi said she was prepared to preside over the cases of five other accused persons.
The separated cases emanate from allegations that the accused persons pressured war veteran James Kaunye, a key state witness in the matters, to withdraw his testimony in another politically motivated matter initially linked to Mutasa, where he was also the state’s star witness.
Chibaya and the his co-accused applied for Mukunyadzi to recuse herself from their case arguing that their trial would be unfair due to her utterances on the alleged intimidation of magistrates.
The magistrate dismissed it, prompting an appeal in the High Court.
In an order made available to the Zimbabwe Independent on Monday, High Court judge Bharat Patel granted the application filed by advocate Depark Mehta on behalf of the accused persons.
“Proceedings before first respondent who is magistrate Loice Mukunyadzi under Rusape case reference 21419/06 is hereby set aside,” reads the order.
The order added that the matter must be heard by another magistrate outside the jurisdiction of Rusape.
Mutasa, who has denied threatening magistrates, has given notice to sue Mukunyadzi for the claims as well as Manicaland area prosecutor, Levison Chikafu, for saying his wings “must be clipped to the greatest extent”. Mutasa has also threatened to sue the Independent for reporting the utterances.
Mukunyadzi and Chikafu have refused to apologise to Mutasa.
Last month, a retired magistrate acquitted Chinamasa on charges of attempting to obstruct the ends of justice but the Attorney-General’s Office has since lodged an appeal.