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Judge to rule on top prosecutor lies claim

Katsimberis approached the High Court after Muchuchuti ruled against his application to force Reza to take the witness stand.

A High Court judge will on Thursday deliver a judgement in a case where deputy prosecutor general Michael Reza is being asked to take the witness stand after he was accused by a Harare property developer of lying to influence the outcome of a trial.

George Katsimberis, who is locked in a bitter wrangle with another property developer Ken Sharpe’s company Pokugara Properties over a deal that went sour, has been battling to have Reza and the presiding magistrate Vongai Guriro Muchuchuti removed from his fraud trial because of their alleged bias.

Katsimberis approached the High Court after Muchuchuti ruled against his application to force Reza to take the witness stand.

High Court judge Justice Munamato Mutevedzi is expected to rule on the matter that arose during Katsimberis’ application to have his fraud case referred to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) as he argued that his rights were being violated by Reza and Muchuchuti.

In the ConCourt application, he accused Reza of lying in order to secure his conviction.

His lawyer Tino Chinyoka said Reza made several false claims in court to prejudice his client and the magistrate did not consider the severity of his actions in arriving at her ruling.

“In any event, the application has not been opposed in earnest,” Chinyoka argued.

“The second respondent has not argued that the prosecutor is not competent or compellable, only that such a thing has not happened before.

“The second respondent has not suggested that concluding the application for referral to the Constitutional Court without crucial competent and compilable testimony would not cause undue injury to the applicant, only that, bizarrely, he should be applying in the magistrates’ court, which is in fact where he is applying; and that he should seek other remedies.”

Chinyoka said the proposal by the magistrate that they should report Reza to the police to force him to take the witness stand to protect the integrity of the court did not guarantee the protection of Katsimberis’ rights.

“It is common cause that the conduct of the prosecutor in this case is serious and has not been denied,” he said.

“It is conduct that falls short of the customary standards of fairness and detachment demanded of a prosecutor and instils a belief that there is a real risk that he has not conducted the trial with due regard to the basic rights and dignity of the applicant, and impacts on the right to a fair hearing.”

Chinyoka said failure to put Reza on the witness stand would prejudice his client because his case would be referred to the ConCourt without crucial evidence.

Karsimberis wants Reza to explain his decision to refuse to give him state papers after declaring that no one, "big or small, tall or short, dead or alive" would force him to produce the document.

He also wants the prosecutor to be cross examined about his alleged falsehoods where he claimed that it was Pokugara that first reported the fraud case to the police yet evidence pointed to the contrary.

He said Reza also lied about the reasons why previous prosecutors had dropped the case and also accused him of consorting with third parties connected with the complainants.

Reza is also accused of being behind the manipulation of transcripts of Katsimberis’ trial proceedings.

In his answering affidavit, Katsimberis said the law allowed him to call any witness he deems useful to his cause and calling Reza as a hostile witness to the stand would enable him to answer to many of his unprofessional actions. He said such information is useful for his ConCourt application.

Reza argued that Katsimberis’ application must be dismissed because he had not exhausted available remedies such as seeking the recusal of the magistrate and demanding a review of the judgment should the application fail.

He also said the application for referral to the ConCourt should also be dismissed.

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