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Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Testifies in Bribery Trial

The trial of Zimbabwe's minister of justice, accused of trying to bribe a witness in a political violence case, is winding down in his hometown of Rusape, in eastern Zimbabwe.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa is accused of offering a bribe to get a district official to withdraw accusations that supporters of Security Minister Didymus Mutasa engaged in public violence before the 2005 election. His accuser, James Kauyne, is fellow official in the ruling Zanu-PF party who wanted to be a candidate in the election, but lost to Mutasa in the primaries.

On Thursday, Chinamasa told a packed courtroom in his hometown Rusape, about 150 kilometers southeast of Harare, that he was the victim of a political plot. He said his accuser was one of 32 witnesses in the case, and he would be stupid to try bribing only one of them not to testify. He denied offering Kauyne a farm and help with getting a pending charge of attempted murder dropped.

Chinamasa told the court he only went to see his accuser to try to restore peace in the Rusape district, for the sake of unity within Zanu-PF ahead of the elections.

The state and defense wrapped up their cases Thursday. However, prosecutor Levison Chikafu refused to present a final argument. Chikafu says he is being intimidated by the government with threats of lawsuits.

A verdict in the Chinamasa case will be handed down on September 4.