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Zimbabwe High Court Rejects FM Biti's Appeal Against Phone Records Release

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Harare High Court Justice Chinembiri Bhunu rejected Biti’s appeal on Friday, paving the way for police to compel Econet to release the sought records - though Biti has appealed to the Supreme Court

A Zimbabwean High Court judge Friday threw out an appeal by Finance Minister Tendai Biti who sought to bar police from obtaining his mobile phone records, prompting his lawyers to instantly lodge another appeal with the Supreme Court.

A magistrate ruled a few weeks ago that mobile provider Econet should release Biti's records to the police, who say they are investigating him and a number of his subordinates in the Finance Ministry on suspicion of corruption.

Biti has said the investigation is politically motivated. A number of senior officials of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, of which Biti is secretary general, have been arrested and prosecuted this year.

Biti additionally argued in briefs submitted to the High Court that the move to obtain his phone records was unlawful as it breached his personal privacy.

Harare High Court Justice Chinembiri Bhunu rejected Biti’s appeal on Friday, paving way for police to compel Econet to release the sought records. The mobile phone provider said recently it had no option but to comply with the court orders.

But lawyer Innocent Chagonda, representing Biti, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the High Court decision has been appealed in the Supreme Court, putting the release of the phone records on hold until the Supreme Court has ruled.

"Justice Bhunu dismissed Biti's urgent application, subsequent thereto, we received instructions from Biti to file an appeal with the Supreme Court," Chagonda said.

"The appeal has been filed and served on all interested parties, including the police and the Attorney General's Office," Chagonda said.

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