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Zimbabwe: MDC Secretary-General Testifies at Tsvangirai Treason Trial - 2004-02-11


The secretary-general of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has testified at the High Court on behalf of his political leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who is on trial for treason. The defense got a boost when the court admitted into evidence documents that Mr. Tsvangirai's lawyers say contradict the prosecution's case.

A professor of law on leave from the University of Zimbabwe, Welshman Ncube told the court he drew up the first contract between a Canadian firm and the Movement for Democratic Change for lobbying in the United States and Canada ahead of Zimbabwe's presidential elections in March 2002.

The firm is owned by Ari Ben Menashe, a key prosecution witness in the trial against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is accused of plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe. The state's case rests on evidence that Mr. Tsvangirai had three meetings with Mr. Ben Menashe, in which an assassination plot was allegedly discussed. The final meeting was videotaped, and is a key part of the state's case.

Mr. Tsvangirai has denied the allegations and said he was framed by the Canadian company.

Mr. Ncube testified he was duped into believing that the Canadian company was well connected with world leaders and wielded much influence, when in fact, it had no influence and no clients.

The high court, in a decision seen as boosting the defendant's case, admitted into evidence MDC's demand for the return of $100,000 paid to Mr. Menashe and his reply. These documents, defense lawyer George Bizos told the court, contradict the prosecution witness' testimony.

The opposition leader faces the death penalty, if convicted.