A Harare magistrate has dismissed opposition leader Tendai Biti’s challenge against his arrest and the jurisdiction of Zimbabwean courts over case. Biti was arrested following a dramatic but failed bit to seek political asylum in Zambia, having fled to the neighbouring country saying his life was in danger.

He was wanted by the police over allegations of illegally announcing the results of the July 30 presidential ballot and inciting the deadly post-election violence which left six people dead.

When he first appeared in court, Biti denied the charges and, further, challenged the jurisdiction of local courts over the matter saying his arrest had violated international law.

However, on Friday magistrate Francis Mapfumo said the former finance minister was arrested while trying to flee prosecution over crimes he committed on July 31 this year.

“It is not in dispute that the accused was handed to the police by immigration officers so in this case the police did not violate the law. There was no violation of international law since he was arrested while still in the country,” ruled the magistrate.

“What the accused uttered in announcing that MDC Alliance leader (Nelson Chamisa) was the winner (of the elections) was indeed violation of the law.

“No evidence was shown in the court to indicate that even (his) relatives were harassed as no case was ever reported anywhere.

“Court finds there is no basis to permanently stay this case and his application therefore has no basis.”

More to follow …

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