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Cablegate: Tsvangirai Treason Trial Postponed Until

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001805

SIPDIS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

SENSITIVE

E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI ZI MDC
SUBJECT: Tsvangirai Treason Trial Postponed Until
September 22

REF: HARARE 1598

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for internet posting.
Protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Lawyers for Morgan Tsvangirai advised the
Embassy on September 12 that by mutual agreement of the
parties, resumption of Tsvangirai's treason trial was
postponed from September 15 to September 22. Presiding
Justice Garwe approached the parties on September 11,
noting that he had scheduling conflicts the following
week and giving the parties the option of postponing,
which the parties took.

2. (SBU) When the trial recommences, the first order of
business will be a hearing on the prosecution's
application seeking amendment of its indictment before
Tsvangirai presents his case. In its application, the

SIPDIS
state admitted that the evidence that it had offered thus
far differed from the particulars in the indictment. The
state is seeking to invoke a section of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act that allows a party to amend
an indictment in order to correct discrepancies between
the indictment and the evidence introduced at trial.
During the trial, the prosecution introduced no evidence
to prove that Tsvangirai specifically requested
representatives of Dickens and Madson to arrange for the
assassination of Robert Mugabe at a third meeting. The
state wishes to alter the indictment to show that no
request was made at a third meeting.

3. (SBU) Defense attorneys will oppose the application
but have yet to file a response. Garwe is expected to
hear the state's application on September 22, and will
have the option of reserving judgment while the defense
proceeds, or suspending the trial pending judgment. In
the latter case, a decision would likely be rendered and
the trial resumed within a week, according to defense
attorneys.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The state's application to amend the
indictment suggests the prosecution's doubts about the
evidence's sufficiency to support a conviction. In any
event, the trial's broader political context suggests it
likely will stretch out until at least the end of the
year, as Tsvangirai suggested to us recently. A
conviction before December's Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Abuja would upset
Zimbabwe's prospects for having its Commonwealth
suspension lifted and seems unlikely. While an acquittal
before that might be seen to enhance Zimbabwe's
international image, the government may choose to string
the case out as long as possible. A lengthy trial would
absorb Tsvangirai's attention, potentially leaving
substantive party leadership and involvement in possible
inter-party talks increasingly to other MDC principals
(e.g., MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube) with whom
the ruling party feels more comfortable. It would
further fit in with ZANU-PF's long-standing strategy of
keeping the MDC on the defensive, requiring the
opposition's time and resources to be devoted to
harassing litigation instead of a more proactive agenda.
Sullivan

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