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Zim to appeal Tsvangirai's treason acquittal
December 1, 2004
Harare - Zimbabwe has applied to the Supreme Court to challenge the acquittal of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on charges of plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe's High Court acquitted opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Tsvangirai in October of plotting to assassinate Mugabe and seize power ahead of 2002 presidential elections - a treason charge which could have brought a death penalty on conviction.

"We have applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal the acquittal. I have no idea when this will be heard but there's no reason why it should not be this year," acting Attorney-General Bharat Patel said.

The state's case against Tsvangirai rested on a secretly taped video of a Montreal meeting between him and Canada-based political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe, where prosecutors said Mugabe's "elimination" was discussed.

Tsvangirai argued that he merely discussed suggestions Mugabe might accept a plan to retire before the 2002 poll, which the veteran leader went on to win amid charges of rigging from the MDC and some Western nations.

In acquitting Tsvangirai, High Court Judge Paddington Garwe said the prosecution had not shown beyond reasonable doubt that Tsvangirai had sought Mugabe's assassination and a coup d'etat.

The government condemned the acquittal and said a guilty man had been allowed to walk free.

Tsvangirai still faces separate treason charges linked to anti-Mugabe protests the MDC tried to organise in 2003.

The MDC is seen by many political analysts as the strongest challenge to Mugabe since independence from Britain in 1980.

It has drawn most of its support largely from urban residents who blame Mugabe's government for an economic crisis shown in unemployment of over 70 percent, three-digit inflation, and chronic shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

Mugabe calls the MDC a puppet of Britain, which he says have led a campaign to sabotage Zimbabwe's economy over his seizure of white-owned farms for landless blacks.


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