By Desmond Chingarande
JOURNALIST Hopewell Chin’ono’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa yesterday asked the presiding magistrate to recuse herself since her impartiality was compromised because of her previous averments.
Chin’ono is being accused of inciting public violence. He appeared before magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro.
Mtetwa, Doug Coltart and Gift Mtisi are Chin’ono’s defence counsel.
As the trial opened, the State informed the court that it was ready for trial, but Mtetwa objected saying trial could not go ahead under the same magistrate who failed an impartiality test when she ruled that Chin’ono had a case to answer during an application for exception.
Mtetwa said there was a pending review of Muchuchuti-Guwuriro’s ruling on exception, saying their review may be granted because she had not responded to their application which she was cited.
She also said she had another case at the High Court.
“There is a pending review at the High Court on your ruling. The grounds for review, your worship, include certain pronouncements and the ruling which suggests you believe in the guilty of the accused and in our respectful view those comments naturally are a concern to the accused and your impartiality is, therefore, doubtful when you made those pronouncements,” Mtetwa said.
“So the review whatever the results of the view your comments will pacify from further prosecution of the accused and from those reasons we apply that when we wait for the review proceedings that in any event if you don’t want to stay the proceedings today you have to recuse yourself,” she submitted.
“In any event, the lead counsel is not available. You are aware that there is no contestation since there is no affidavit of yourself to answer your allegations and as it is our application is not contested at the High Court. For that reason, we may seek the postponement of the matter. You have the power to postpone a matter and the reason obviously is for the justice to be done,” Mtetwa further said.
The State, however, objected, saying the application before the High Court was yet to be set down and could not stop the proceedings.
Muchuchuti-Guwuriro postponed the matter to today for ruling.