Zimbabwe AG appeals bail order for opposition cabinet nominee

[JURIST] The Zimbabwean attorney general's office on Wednesday appealed to the nation's Supreme Court a Tuesday High Court ruling ordering the release of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website] party treasurer general and cabinet member-designate Roy Bennett [JURIST news archive]. Bennett faces charges under Zimbabwe's Public Order and Security Act [materials] for "attempting to commit terrorism, banditry and sabotage." Judge Tedias Karwi rejected a state appeal seeking to deny Bennett bail [TGZ report], finding that the conditions of Bennett's release, set last week [The ZimDaily report], were adequate and that the heightened bail requirements proposed by the state, including surrendering his passport, were unnecessary. The attorney general's office appealed the decision [Zimbabwean report], calling Bennett a flight risk. Bennett is scheduled to remain in prison for two weeks during the appeal, though his lawyers have indicated plans to file their own application with the Supreme Court if the state refused to acknowledge the High Court's decision.

Bennett, who was arrested last month shortly before he was scheduled to be sworn as deputy agriculture minister in the new power-sharing coalition government [BBC report] led by MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai, is accused [JURIST report] of funding the purchase of fire arms and explosives intended to be used as part of an insurgency. It is feared that Bennett's arrest could pose a threat to the power-sharing agreement [JURIST report] between the MDC and the African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party of President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Bennett was originally sought for questioning [JURIST report] in relation to the allegations in 2006, but he had been seeking asylum in South Africa until recently [IOL report]. Treason charges against him were dropped [Times report] in favor of the terrorism and other charges.

 

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