A Zimbabwe judge on Monday morning threw out a treason charge against Robert Mugabe’s longstanding enemy Roy Bennett as the court failed to prove its case.
Bennett was facing death sentence if found guilty.
Said Judge Chinembiri Bhunu: “Having carefully considered the facts, I come to the conclusion that the state has failed to prove a prima facie case. The accused is accordingly found not guilty”.
Bennett’s acquittal could pave the way for his swearing in as Deputy Minister for Agriculture, his lawyer Trust Maanda said.
Mugabe has repeatedly refused to swear him saying he has a serious case to answer.
Throughout the trail Tsvangirai and his party have been saying that the charges were baseless and part of efforts by Mugabe loyalists to undermine Zimbabwe’s coalition government.
But Mugabe’s party said it was up to a judge to determine the merits of the case.
Bennett, who returned in Zimbabwe in January 2009 after spending nearly two years in exile in South Africa, was arrested on February 13 last year, the day he was supposed to be sworn in.
Bennett is an aide to Tsvangirai and treasurer general for the Movement for Democratic Change, which is currently in fragile government in a power-sharing deal with Mugabe.
His trial was initially scheduled to take place in October last year but was adjourned in November amid claims that key evidence alleging Bennett’s involvement in a plot to overthrow Mugabe had been gathered through torture.
Bennett, who also faced charges of possessing weapons for sabotage and banditry, has long been a thorn in the side of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.
He was released from prison in June 2006, after serving eight months for pushing the minister of justice, Patrick Chinamasa, in parliament.
Chinamasa had called Bennett’s forefathers thieves and murderers.