OPPOSITION Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) interim vice-president Tendai Biti’s application for recusal of a magistrate in a case he is accused of verbally assaulting a Russian investor has been dismissed.

Biti, who is being represented by Alec Muchadehama, had filed the application for recusal saying presiding magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro was biased.

He submitted that all his court applications were being dismissed by the same magistrate, adding that this showed bias. In dismissing the application, Muchuchuti-Guwuriro said Biti had failed to provide evidence of bias.

“Trials are open to emotions and the court that dismisses his application cannot be deemed biased. The applicants sought the postponement to August and the court dismissed his application and the applicants started to make a lengthy application to delay the matter,” Muchuchuti-Guwuriro said.

“The applicant failed to provide reasonable suspicion that the court was biased and his reasons were based on repetition of what he had previously submitted and dismissed.”

It is Biti’s third application seeking Muchuchuti-Guwuriro’s recusal.

His previous application was dismissed at the High Court, which ruled that the trial should resume.

The State represented by Michael Reza opposed the application, arguing that Biti was employing delaying tactics.

His trial is pending two years after his initial remand.

Muchuchuti-Guwuriro postponed the matter to August 22 for continuation of the hearing of Biti’s application for referral to the Constitutional Court.

In an unrelated case, human rights lawyers have said the continued denial of bail to CCC legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole was unjustified.

Sikhala and Sithole have been on remand at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison since June, charged with incitement to violence and defeating the course of justice.

The State is seeking to extend Sikhala’s remand by a further three months to November.

Human rights lawyer Fred Masarirevu said: “Bail is a constitutional right in terms of section 50(1)(d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Sikhala and Sithole are being denied bail not on valid legal grounds. For instance, bail has been denied and the reasons thereof not delivered.

“The denial of bail is more political than legal. Law responds to politics and when the politics is not right, the law will reflect that. I see this as political persecution.”

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum director, Musa Kika said the case showed an attempt by the State to muzzle critics and other dissenting voices.

“The continued refusal of bail to Sikhala is extremely concerning and worrisome. It is an excuse to propagate persecution by prosecution,” Kika said. 

Source Newsday