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Biti protests over Press commentaries

Tendai Biti

FORMER Finance minister Tendai Biti yesterday protested against alleged moves by a Harare land developer to run commentaries in the Press on an ongoing court case in violation of the law.

Biti made the complaint in a case where he is being accused of verbally assaulting Russian investor Tatiana Aleshina two years ago.

Biti wants the Harare Magistrates Court to refer his case to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) where he believes he will get a fair trial.

Aleshina is Ken Sharpe’s business partner in Augur Investments that was awarded the Harare Airport Road construction contract.

In his submissions in court, Biti argued that the company was allegedly irregularly given large swathes of land in Harare over the airport project.

Augur Investments’ former general manager Michael Van Blerk responded to Biti’s allegations through a Press release accusing the CCC legislator of distorting facts.

Biti said Aleshina should not have responded to his submissions through a Press release, but through proper court processes.

Prosecutor Michael Reza, however, defended the complainant saying the Press statement that Biti submitted in court had nothing to do with the proceedings in court.

Reza said the current matter was a verbal assault case.

He said the statement that Biti referred to related to other matters pending at the High Court.

"These issues on the statement are being done in other court cases. There is no name of Tatiana Aleshina. The statement is written by Michael Van Blerk and not the complainant," Reza said.

Magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro, however, asked Biti how he wanted the case to proceed.

Biti said he wanted the complainant to be stopped from running the commentary on his court submissions through Press releases.

The matter, however, proceeded with Biti submitting letters which he claimed Aleshina wrote to the Finance ministry and other documents which he said supported his case.

The matter was postponed to November 18 for continuation of the application for referral to the ConCourt.

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