Central Intelligence Organisation boss Happyton Bonyongwe admitted that his organisation had destroyed vouchers which proved that the organisation had paid Canadian Ari Ben Menashe who had implicated Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube and MDC shadow Minister for Agriculture Renson Gasela were on trial for treason for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mugabe.
Tsvangirai’s lawyer George Bizos asked Bonyongwe to produce the vouchers which the CIO used to pay Menashe but Bonyongwe said they had been destroyed.
Bonyongwe refused to answer a question from Bizos on who had made the decision to destroy the vouchers and whether he had been party to the destruction.
The prosecution produced a certificate signed by Minister of State and National Security Nicholas Goche saying that it would not be appropriate for Bonyongwe to answer questions about the vouchers for reasons of national security.
The trial was full of twists and turns with police seizing a draft copy of Tsvangirai’s testimony from an MDC messenger. They were ordered to return the documents and did so but it is believed they had copied the documents.
Bonyongwe also said the key witness Ari Ben Menashe had lied about the content of the video tape which showed Tsvangirai talking about the assassination plot.
He admitted that he had not heard Tsvangirai say he wanted to kill, murder or assassinate Mugabe.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1025, POLICE SEIZE DEFENSE DOCUMENTS, STATE SUPPRESSES
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001025
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013
SUBJECT: POLICE SEIZE DEFENSE DOCUMENTS, STATE SUPPRESSES
EVIDENCE IN THE TSVANGIRAI TREASON TRIAL WEEK TEN
REF: A. HARARE 946
¶B. HARARE 568
¶C. HARARE 484
¶D. HARARE 360
¶E. HARARE 313
¶F. HARARE 250
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) In the tenth week of the treason trial of MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai, police officers seized a draft
copy of Tsvangirai,s opening testimony from an MDC messenger
sent to deliver it to Tsvangirai. The State presented a
certificate signed by the Minister of State and National
Security Nicholas Goche, exempting the head of the Central
Intelligence Organization, retired Brigadier Happyton
Bonyongwe from answering questions on payments made to Ari
Ben Menashe. Irregularities such as these may in the end aid
the defense in its application for dismissal. End Summary.
Police Seize Defense Documents
¶2. (U) The treason trial of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai,
MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube, and MDC Shadow Minister
of Agriculture Renson Gasela continued into its tenth week on
May 19. On that day police officers at the High Court
entrance seized a draft copy of Tsvangirai,s opening
testimony from an MDC messenger who was delivering the
document to Tsvangirai from the defense lawyers’ offices. It
was returned after defense attorneys intervened, but the
defense team believes the police made a copy, which if true,
they fear would severely damage their case. The defense team
filed a complaint with the Deputy Attorney General.
CIO Witness Reveals Lies
¶3. (U) Only one witness took the stand this week, the head of
the Central Intelligence Organization, retired Brigadier
Happyton Bonyongwe. Bonyongwe admitted that he did not hear
Morgan Tsvangirai say he wanted to kill, murder or
assassinate Mugabe. He also stated that Ben Menashe lied in
a press article concerning the content of the audiotape.
Despite this, Bonyongwe said he believed Menashe,s account
because of undisclosed information his office received from
other unidentified sources.
State Suppresses Evidence
¶4. (U) On May 21, defense attorney George Bizos asked
Bonyongwe to produce vouchers, which Bonyongwe’s office used
to pay Menashe. During cross-examination, Ari Ben Menashe
had said the Central Intelligence Organization had destroyed
vouchers that provided proof of payments the GOZ had made to
him. Bonyongwe confirmed that the vouchers had been
destroyed. Bizos asked Bonyongwe, who had made the decision
to destroy the vouchers, whether or not he had been party to
the destruction. Bonyongwe refused to answer.
¶5. (U) On May 22, the prosecution produced a certificate
signed by Minister of State and National Security, Nicholas
Goche saying that it would not be appropriate for Bonyongwe
to answer questions about the vouchers for reasons of
national security. The prosecution argued that that
information was privileged and told Garwe that Bonyongwe had
prepared an affidavit stating reasons why this information
should not be divulged in open court or in camera.
¶6. (U) Bizos argued the information was of public interest
and had already been referred to previously in the trial.
Bizos said that Garwe could not make a judgment on
information, which had not been shown to the defense team.
Bizos also noted that it was bizarre that the date of
signature on the certificate was the May 20, yet the
questions had only been posed to Bonyongwe on the May 21.
The Deputy Attorney General was quick to state that the date
was a typing error. Justice Garwe said he would reserve
judgment until May 28.
¶7. (U) Attendance in court this week was very low.
¶8. (C) Continued irregularities like the theft of the
Tsvangirai’s draft testimony, and the intervention by
Minister Goche to suppress evidence point to the difficulties
the defense faces in simply airing relevant evidence, and
preparing their clients for upcoming phases of the trial.
These irregularities are likely to be a double-edged sword
for the GOZ – their flagrance bolsters the defense argument
that the trial is unfair. We still expect the defense team
to move for dismissal in the coming weeks. End Comment.