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Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Acquitted

Zimbabwe's justice minister has been acquitted Monday of trying to bribe a witness in a political violence case.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was accused of offering a farm to a state witness, if the witness refused to testify against a group of people charged with political violence. The violence was allegedly committed by supporters of Security Minister Didymus Mutasa during the ruling ZANU-PF party's primaries last year.

Judge Phineas Chipopoteke said the state relied on a single witness for its case against the justice minister, and failed to prove the accusations beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice Minister Chinamasa claimed the case against him was brought by people who wanted to force him out of the political system.

The case was heard in Chinamasa's hometown, Rusape, about 190 kilometers southeast of Harare, where the political violence is alleged to have taken place.

Judge Chipopoteke, who is retired, was called to preside over the trial because local judges refused to hear a case against their boss.

The case has fascinated Zimbabweans, as the justice minister has been responsible for many tough laws since he was appointed to the post by President Robert Mugabe in 2000.

Last year, he was responsible for changing the constitution so that the state can withdraw travel documents from citizens.