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Authorities in Zimbabwe Charge Lawyer With Obstruction for Objecting to Subpoena

Police in Zimbabwe Tuesday released a lawyer arrested Monday for objecting to a subpoena issued for his client, Peter Hitschmann, who served a prison term for possession of weapons in connection with an alleged 2006 plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

Attorney Mordecai Mahlangu was charged with obstructing justice after he wrote to Attorney General Johannes Tomana to protest the subpoena directing Hitschmann to testify in the terrorism trial of Senator Roy Bennett of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Bennett, a former white commercial farmer who in 2004-2005 served eight months of a term imposed by Parliament for a scuffle on the House floor with ZANU-PF Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, is scheduled to go on trial Nov. 9 on charges of possessing weapons for the purpose of terrorism and banditry in connection with the 2006 Hitschmann case.

The alleged assassination conspiracy targeting Bennett and other members of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, then in opposition, fell apart as even state prosecutors disassociated themselves from the case. Only Hitschmann was convicted on weapons charges after police seized firearms at his home in Mutare, Manicaland province.

Mahlangu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga he was freed Tuesday afternoon and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 16, when he said he intends to refuse further remand as his action on behalf of Hitschmann was within the bounds of the law.

Elsewhere, another Tsvangirai MDC official reported missing a fortnight ago turned up in a Harare court on Tuesday accused of stealing weapons from a military barracks. Pascal Gwenzere was remanded in custody to Nov. 13.

His lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said Gwenzere was charged without his knowledge and needs urgent medical attention because he was severely tortured by state agents.

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