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Published: October 16, 2009
ROY Bennett was granted bail on Friday, two days after he was indicted on terrorism charges.
Bennett’s detention increased tensions in the power sharing government, with his MDC party announcing it was disengaging from all co-operation with President Robert Mugabe’s party.
“In my view, Bennett stands to lose more by absconding trial. He has foiled his previous record, therefore he is entitled to an order that he seeks,” Justice Charles Hungwe told the court.
The state immediately appealed the ruling, but Hungwe dismissed the bid to detain the MDC treasurer in custody for the start of his terrorism trial next Monday.
Bennett was ordered detained – a legal procedure after an indictment – on Wednesday by a Mutare magistrate.
The former Chimanimani MP, 52, is charged with possession of weapons with the intent to cause sabotage, terrorism and insurgency in 2006. He denies the charges.
After his initial arrest in 2006, Bennett fled to South Africa where he remained until the power sharing government was formed in February. He was nominated by new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to be the Deputy Agriculture Minister, but President Robert Mugabe said he could only be sworn in if he is found innocent at the end of his trial.
The MDC accuses the attorney-general’s office of conspiring to keep Bennett, a former white farmer, out of office by keeping him behind bars on what it calls trumped-up charges.
Tsvangirai on Friday cited the “persecution” of Bennett as a factor behind the party’s decision to boycott cabinet meetings.(New Zimbabwe)