Biti sues ‘biased’ magistrate who ordered trial to proceed without his lawyer

Tendai Biti

HARARE – MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti has dragged Harare regional magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti to the High Court after she ordered his trial to commence in the absence of his lawyer.

Biti is jointly suing Muchuchuti and deputy prosecutor general, Michael Reza.

The former finance minister charges that the magistrate and the prosecutor are not fit for judicial office and have shown bias against him as such should be recused from his trial on allegations that he assaulted a Russian national, Tatiana Aleshina.

Biti is seeking a review of Muchuchuti’s ruling of October 13, 2021, in which she turned down his application for postponement and ordered the trial to proceed in the absence of his lawyer.

Biti said the ruling was grossly irregular.

“Muchuchuti’s decision can only be examined by the reason that she has developed an interest in the matter and her decision and actions were actuated by malice and bias,” Biti says in the High Court filing.

He said Reza was also motivated by malice in challenging his postponement request.

Biti is seeking that his application succeeds and that his prosecution, in this case, is permanently stayed.

Alternatively, he wants the High Court to set aside Muchuchuti’s decision in dismissing his application for postponement and ordering the trial to proceed in the absence of his lawyer.

Biti said it was shocking that a matter relating to “alleged verbal abuse, now engineered as an assault, ends up being a triable matter before a regional magistrate.”

He said in an affidavit: “Since then, Muchuchuti has shown consistent bias against myself. She has constantly refused any indulgence to my legal practitioners. Moreover, Reza is the deputy Prosecutor General. He deputises Mr Kumbirai Hodzi. How does a deputy PG prosecute a case of verbal abuse in a regional court?

“The atmosphere at court is a poisoned one. Both the Muchuchuti and indeed Reza behave as if they are joint prosecutors.

“Both of them in my humble opinion have miserably failed to uphold their judicial duties as officers of this honourable court as is required by section 165 of the Constitution.”

The matter is yet to be heard. – ZimLive

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