Harare regional magistrate Mrs Vongai Guwuriro Muchuchuti is today expected to rule on an application for recusal of senior prosecutor Mr Michael Reza from the matter in which MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti is facing allegations of manhandling a Russian national at the Harare Magistrates Court last year. Biti through his lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama applied for the recusal of Mr Reza saying he was scared of him as he was very powerful.
He also submitted that Mr Reza was biased towards him and he would not get a fair trial if he prosecuted him. “We submit that Mr Reza is not a proper person to prosecute the accused person on account of his past and current conduct towards the accused person,” he said.
Mr Muchadehama said Mr Reza would not be impartial in the prosecution of this matter as he had something personal against Biti.
“He is not going to act in good faith towards the accused person,” he said.
Responding to the application Mr Reza said: “There is no law which supports this kind of application. For a prosecutor to be asked to be recused, he must have done something that warrants him to do so but in this case there is totally nothing,” said Mr Reza.
“Mr Muchadehama should say things that I have done in this matter which justify my recusal. He is a senior lawyer at his law firm but he is here attending an assault case.
“Why then should I be barred from prosecuting this case as well,” he said.
Harare magistrate Vongai Guwuriro deferred the matter to today for ruling.
The trial failed to kick off on Wednesday after Biti learnt that Mr Reza was handling the matter. It is the State’s case that Ms Tatiana Aleshina was manhandled and insulted by Biti within the court premises .
Mrs Aleshina filed a report with the police and has now lodged two further complaints with the Law Society of Zimbabwe.
Ms Aleshina wants Biti investigated for alleged gross unprofessional conduct and alleges she and her workmates were verbally abused each time they came to court. Ms Aleshina is one of the witnesses in a case involving Georgios Katsimberis who allegedly defrauded Pokugara Properties in a deal to build cluster houses in Harare’s Borrowdale suburb. “While attending to these matters at Harare Magistrates’ Court, I and my colleague at Pokugara Properties (Private) Limited have been victims of Mr Biti’s unsolicited verbal abuse and assaults which amount to gross professional misconduct,” said Ms Aleshina, the chief operating officer of Pokugara.
She claimed that on August 29 last year, as she was about to leave the court gallery after the court session and was in the company of Mr Simbarashe Kadye, her company’s chief finance officer.
Biti confronted them and said: “I am going to take your house, clothes and panties and leave you with nothing. I am not joking!”
Biti then allegedly turned to Ms Aleshina reportedly shouting that she was very stupid and threatened to harm her.“It was clear to all people who were in the court gallery that Mr Biti took delight not only in verbally abusing me, but in trying to intimidate me and felt that, as a woman and foreigner of Russian origin, I was a nonentity to him and that he would use extra judicial means to crush me or harm or destroy me for daring to be a witness in the criminal matter against his client,” she stated in her complaint.