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Zimbabwe Cricketer Facing Arson Charges Pleads Derangement

The lawyer representing former Zimbabwe Cricket player Mark Vermeulen, charged with arson in connection with fires set at the CFX Academy in Highlands and at the Harare sports club last October, is asking the Attorney General’s office to drop the charges because he says his client was not mentally competent at the time.

Vermeulen admitted the charges but attributed his actions to mental health problems that he said dated back to his childhood when he was hit by a cricket ball. Advocate Eric Matinenga said three psychiatrists have found Vermeulen to be mentally ill.

He hopes the charges will be dropped by the next hearing in the case June 15.

Prosecutors say Vermeulen had a disagreement with Zimbabwe Cricket administrators in which he threatened to cause damage to the institute.

It is alleged that Vermeulen set a fire at the academy two weeks later using methylated spirits as an accelerant.

But Matinenga told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his client was unable to distinguish right from wrong.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...