Ben Menashe says Tsvangirai is nuts


Canadian businessman Ari Ben Menashe said Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who he described as the future president of Zimbabwe, was nuts.

He apologised to the court but refused to apologise to Tsvangirai for the remark forcing the judge Paddington Garwe to adjourn the case until the following day.

Although Garwe strongly castigated Ben Menashe for his inappropriate and insulting language the Canadian businessman did not relent.

He accused the defence of dragging the case and complained that he was being asked to answer questions repeatedly.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2003-03-07 09:45

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


070945Z Mar 03

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000484




E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2013











ND (D)


Summary. 1. (C) The treason trial of Movement for

Democratic Change

(MDC) officials Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube, and Renson

Gasela resumed on March 3, after a one-week recess.

Cross-examination of the state,s star witness, Ari

Ben-Menashe, entered its seventeenth day on March 7. Court

time was divided between questioning Ben-Menashe about

portions of the infamous videotape and dealing with

Ben-Menashe,s conduct. The judge and the lawyers were

visibly tired of Ben-Menashe and the slow pace of the trial,

and the judge even met with the attorneys on more than one

occasion to discuss ways to speed it up. End summary.


Bizos Picks Apart Videotape



2. (U) Lead defense attorney George Bizos resumed his

cross-examination on March 3, after a one-week recess granted

at the behest of Ari Ben-Menashe. Bizos, questioning

focused on pointing out irregularities between Ben-Menashe,s

testimony and the videotape and on showing the court how

Ben-Menashe and his associates tried to entrap Tsvangirai,

Ncube, and Gasela.   Bizos made it very clear that Tsvangirai

used the word “eliminate” only once, and only after ABM had

used it over and over again.


3. (U) Bizos asked Ben-Menashe to decipher the conversation

between him, his business partner Alexander Legault, and

purported CIA Deputy Director Simms when Tsvangirai and

Johnson left the room at one point during their December 2001

meeting in Montreal. Bizos also questioned Ben-Menashe about

passages in which Ben-Menashe pretended to be on

Tsvangirai,s side for the purposes of entrapment.



Ben-Menashe reiterated previous claims that Tsvangirai had

wanted Dickens and Madson to secure the CIA’s help in

assassinating Mugabe. He also claimed that, for the first

time during the trial and without any corroboration from the

videotape, Tsvangirai also planned to kill some of Mugabe’s




Ben-Menashe Wasting Court,s Time



4. (U) The court has spent an inordinate amount of time

arguing over Ben-Menashe,s compliance with court orders and

dealing with his over-the-top behavior. Before the recess,

Ben-Menashe was ordered to produce several documents

including a certificate of registration and financial data

for Dickens and Madsen (see reftel A). On March 3, Bizos

questioned Ben-Menashe about these documents and pressed the

court to find Ben-Menashe in noncompliance of the court order

to produce these items. On the morning of March 4, Presiding

Judge Paddington Garwe deliberated for more than an hour on

whether the documents Ben-Menashe provided complied with the

court order. At the end of the deliberations, Garwe decided

Ben-Menashe should explain what was produced and why some

things were missing. During the afternoon, Bizos argued once

more how Ben-Menashe was not in compliance.


5. (U) Court proceedings were held up several times because

of Ben-Menashe,s conduct. On the afternoon of March 5,

court adjourned half an hour early (before 16h00) as a result

of Ben-Menashe,s comments about Morgan Tsvangirai. During

the cross-examination, Ben-Menashe insulted Tsvangirai by

saying “The future president of Zimbabwe is nuts.” Bizos

told the court that he would sit down until the court

addressed the matter. Garwe cautioned Ben-Menashe to watch

his language, reminding him that they had been through this

before. Ben-Menashe then apologized, after which Bizos asked

if the apology were extended to his client. Ben-Menashe

replied no and Bizos insisted that an apology be extended to

his client forthwith. Garwe looked at his watch and declared

that court would adjourn until the following morning.


6. (U) The March 6 morning session opened with Garwe

strongly castigating Ben-Menashe. He made the following



–despite numerous warnings, the state’s witness continues to

use inappropriate and insulting language;

–in a court of law virtually everywhere in the world,

certain rules of decorum must be observed;

–lawyers are expected to behave according to the ethics of

their profession;

–when a witness derides the accused, it is not acceptable

and contemptuous of the proceedings;

–I hope this final warning will suffice and be taken


Despite this castigation, Garwe had to instruct Ben-Menashe

during the afternoon session on March 6 not to call the

accused criminals but to refer to them as the accused.


7. (U) Court was held up again for half an hour during the

afternoon session on March 6 when Ben-Menashe asked the judge

to dismiss him from the stand and allow him to return to

Canada, claiming abuse from both the defense and the state.

Ben-Menashe argued that the state had a vested interest in

his being on the stand and that the defense was trying to win

through a technicality and that was why he had been

questioned for several weeks. Ben-Menashe also complained

about having to answer questions repeatedly and accused the

defense of prolonging the trial.


8. (U) Bizos emphatically rejected the suggestion that he

was responsible for the protracted trial and cited examples

where catering to Ben-Menashe had delayed the proceedings.

Deputy Attorney General Patel also rejected the suggestion

that he was trying to drag the trial out, citing examples

when he had objected to the defense,s line of questioning.

Garwe said he would make a ruling on the petition March 7,

but that Ben-Menashe would testify through the day.


Interest Dwindling and Patience Thin


9. (U) The week saw a marked decrease in the number of

visitors in the courtroom. The lower gallery was between

half and three quarters full. The upper gallery was

relatively empty before the recess. The press area has been

partially full with at least two-thirds occupancy. In

addition to dwindling interest, the two weeks of rain and

exasperation with Ben-Menashe could also factor into the

reduced participation.


10. (U) Garwe is clearly getting fed up with Ben-Menashe (and

the slow pace of the trial), but still stopped short of

spelling out the consequences of inappropriate behavior. He

has tried to speed up the trial by discussing–so far,

without success–ways to do so with opposing attorneys in






9. (C) The judge and lawyers are visibly tired of dealing

with Ben-Menashe and the slow pace of the trial. Both Bizos

and Patel sigh loudly and show other signs of exasperation

when Ben-Menashe goes off on a tangent, as he does in his

responses to virtually every question. Earlier in the week,

defense counsel thought they would have completed the

cross-examination by March 5 but given the constant

interruptions and lack of cooperation by Ben-Menashe and

Garwe,s lack of control over the witness, the

cross-examination could go on for another week. End comment.





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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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