MP, 7 others accused of plot to kill Mugabe

MP, 7 others accused of plot to kill Mugabe

HARARE – A Zimbabwean opposition member of parliament and seven other people arrested last week following the discovery of an arms cache had plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, a lawyer told AFP yesterday.

The eight men including four police officers have been charged under Zimbabwe’s tough security laws of possession of weapons to carry out an insurgency, sabotage or terrorism, said lawyer Trust Manda. Manda quoted documents presented to the magistrate’s court in Mutare on Saturday that said the eight had plotted to kill Mugabe when he travelled to the eastern city on February 25 for a party to celebrate his 82nd birthday.”To achieve this, the group agreed to spill oil on (…a) highway when the motorcade would be approaching so that the motorcade would slip and get involved in an accident,” according to the document read by Manda.At the court appearance on Saturday, lawmaker Giles Mutseyekwa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and seven others were formally charged with violating security laws.”They were remanded in custody to Wednesday and in the meantime we’re going to apply for bail at the High Court,” he said.The eight were rounded up on Tuesday and Wednesday after security agents had arrested one of the suspects identified as Mike Peter Hitschmann over an arms cache found at his home in Mutare.The prosecution claimed Hitschmann was working for a shadowy organisation called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement based in Britain, which it said is seeking to overthrow Mugabe’s government.State television said last week that Hitschmann told his interrogators Mutseyekwa and former MDC MP Roy Bennett were the organisation’s local coordinators, but the opposition party flatly denied those allegations.Bennett was not among those charged on Saturday, said Manda.The state said the arsenal found comprised a Kalashnikov 47 assault rifle, seven Uzi machine guns, four FN rifles, 11 shotguns, six CZ pistols, four revolvers, 15 tear gas canisters and several thousand rounds of ammunition.The arrests come as the MDC is grappling with a split over leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision to boycott senate elections in November that has severely weakened the party that once posed a strong challenge to the 26-year rule of Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party.One camp of the MDC two weeks ago elected former student union activist Arthur Mutambara, who returned to Zimbabwe after a 15-year absence, to be their leader.Mutambara has pledged to try to reunite the MDC and ensure its comeback as a credible force to challenge Mugabe.The MDC faction led by Tsvangirai is due to hold its three-day leadership congress from Friday.- Nampa-AFPManda quoted documents presented to the magistrate’s court in Mutare on Saturday that said the eight had plotted to kill Mugabe when he travelled to the eastern city on February 25 for a party to celebrate his 82nd birthday.”To achieve this, the group agreed to spill oil on (…a) highway when the motorcade would be approaching so that the motorcade would slip and get involved in an accident,” according to the document read by Manda.At the court appearance on Saturday, lawmaker Giles Mutseyekwa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and seven others were formally charged with violating security laws.”They were remanded in custody to Wednesday and in the meantime we’re going to apply for bail at the High Court,” he said.The eight were rounded up on Tuesday and Wednesday after security agents had arrested one of the suspects identified as Mike Peter Hitschmann over an arms cache found at his home in Mutare.The prosecution claimed Hitschmann was working for a shadowy organisation called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement based in Britain, which it said is seeking to overthrow Mugabe’s government.State television said last week that Hitschmann told his interrogators Mutseyekwa and former MDC MP Roy Bennett were the organisation’s local coordinators, but the opposition party flatly denied those allegations.Bennett was not among those charged on Saturday, said Manda.The state said the arsenal found comprised a Kalashnikov 47 assault rifle, seven Uzi machine guns, four FN rifles, 11 shotguns, six CZ pistols, four revolvers, 15 tear gas canisters and several thousand rounds of ammunition.The arrests come as the MDC is grappling with a split over leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision to boycott senate elections in November that has severely weakened the party that once posed a strong challenge to the 26-year rule of Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party.One camp of the MDC two weeks ago elected former student union activist Arthur Mutambara, who returned to Zimbabwe after a 15-year absence, to be their leader.Mutambara has pledged to try to reunite the MDC and ensure its comeback as a credible force to challenge Mugabe.The MDC faction led by Tsvangirai is due to hold its three-day leadership congress from Friday.- Nampa-AFP

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