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Zimbabwe Prosecutors Rest Case In Treason Trial

Zimbabwean prosecutors on Wednesday closed their case against three activists detained for months without bond early last year on charges of treason.

The trio, Paul Siwela, Charles Thomas and John Gazi from the separatist group, Mthwakazi Liberation Front, were arrested in March on allegations they distributed flyers agitating for an Egyptian-style uprising against the government.

They will know whether they will be put on their defense in the next two weeks. Witnesses who testified for the state, mostly police officers, may have weakened the prosecutors' case by giving contradicting evidence.

If convicted, the three activists face the death penalty. Two of the civilian witnesses, Edwin Sibanda and Sibangani Ndlovu denied they were given the flyers by the accused.

The state had alleged that the two were among the people handed the flyers at Bulawayo's eNtumbane Shopping Mall by the accused. But they testified that they never saw Siwela, Gazi or Thomas issuing the circulars.

“I looked at the small paper and saw the words Mthwakazi Kandaba and it also had a map. But just because I was not interested I threw it away,” Sibanda told the court.

Defence lawyers say they will apply for discharge, calling the case, weak. Siwela told VOA's Studio 7 they deny the charges.