Zimbabwe cabinet nominee trial set for October

Zimbabwe cabinet nominee trial set for October

[JURIST] The lawyer for jailed Zimbabwe opposition cabinet member-designate Roy Bennett [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said Wednesday that his trial on terrorism charges will begin on October 13. Trust Maanda [advocacy profile] said that prosecutors have also revised [Reuters report] the conditions of Bennett's bail [JURIST report], requiring him to report bi-monthly to police, rather than three times a week [AFP report]. Bennett, the treasurer general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website] party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], faces charges under Zimbabwe's Public Order and Security Act [materials] for "attempting to commit terrorism, banditry and sabotage."

Bennett, who was arrested in February shortly before he was scheduled to be sworn as deputy agriculture minister in the new power-sharing coalition government [BBC report] led by 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.