Zim coup plot: Hearing in camera

Zim coup plot: Hearing in camera

HARARE – A magistrate in Zimbabwe ruled that he would only hear an application for refusal of remand by six alleged coup plotters in a closed courtroom, a newspaper said yesterday.

The six men, including former army officer Albert Matapo, were arrested in late May in central Harare while allegedly discussing the plot to oust President Robert Mugabe and replace him with Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. It is alleged Matapo planned to become prime minister.The accused, including at least one serving soldier deny the allegations.They insist that on the day of their arrest they were discussing plans to launch a new political party.They want the case thrown out by the magistrate’s court.But Magistrate Archie Wochiunga consented last Thursday to a request by state prosecutors to have the appeal heard in secret, the official Herald newspaper said.State prosecutor Joseph Makwakwa was reported as saying names of the alleged accomplices of the six men would be disclosed during the court hearing, which could jeopardise police investigations.But defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange dismissed the state’s request as a ruse aimed at saving its embarrassingly weak case from public scrutiny.”My clients do not want to be acquitted in secrecy,” he told the Herald.The truth is that the state does not want to be exposed that they do not have a case against the six.Political commentators have expressed scepticism over the alleged coup plot, saying it could be an attempt to besmirch the reputation of Mnangagwa.Mnangagwa, who has dismissed claims he is involved in any coup plot as stupid, heads one powerful faction within the ruling Zanu-PF, and is seen as a possible successor to Mugabe.Nampa-SapaIt is alleged Matapo planned to become prime minister.The accused, including at least one serving soldier deny the allegations.They insist that on the day of their arrest they were discussing plans to launch a new political party.They want the case thrown out by the magistrate’s court.But Magistrate Archie Wochiunga consented last Thursday to a request by state prosecutors to have the appeal heard in secret, the official Herald newspaper said.State prosecutor Joseph Makwakwa was reported as saying names of the alleged accomplices of the six men would be disclosed during the court hearing, which could jeopardise police investigations.But defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange dismissed the state’s request as a ruse aimed at saving its embarrassingly weak case from public scrutiny.”My clients do not want to be acquitted in secrecy,” he told the Herald.The truth is that the state does not want to be exposed that they do not have a case against the six.Political commentators have expressed scepticism over the alleged coup plot, saying it could be an attempt to besmirch the reputation of Mnangagwa.Mnangagwa, who has dismissed claims he is involved in any coup plot as stupid, heads one powerful faction within the ruling Zanu-PF, and is seen as a possible successor to Mugabe.Nampa-Sapa

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