Dealer tortured to implicate top MDC man

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    The state accuses Roy Bennett, who is the deputy agriculture minister-designate and treasurer in Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, of plotting to overthrow Mugabe.

    Prosecutors say he gave 5000 to rifle dealer Peter Hitschmann to buy weapons to use against the veteran leader. Hitschmann, who is yet to testify, is the state’s star witness against Bennett.

    But Bennett’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, told the court that police tortured Hitschmann until he lost consciousness to force him into making a confession implicating her client.

    “His (Hitschmann) belt was removed and underpants were taken off … he felt a burning (sensation) from his buttocks and blacked out,” Mtetwa said, while cross examining policeman Michael Joseph Nyakatawa, who was part of a team of security agents who arrested Hitschmann about three years ago.

    Nyakatawa said Hitschmann implicated Bennett voluntarily during questioning.

    Hitschmann, who says he was tortured into implicating Bennett, has written to the attorney-general saying he has no evidence to give against Bennett.

    The high court had ruled earlier that Hitschmann was not guilty of treason, and that weapons seized from his property had licences.

    Investigators have failed to prove the existence of a Mozambican bank account allegedly held by Hitschmann into which the state claims money to buy weapons was deposited. The police have also conceded that some of the guns that the state claims were bought with money supplied by Bennett were recovered from the home of an army officer.

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