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Judge lavishes praise on MDC bomb plot official, grants bail
Lebo Nkatazo and Lindie Whiz,
May 31, 2007

A ZIMBABWEAN judge lavished rare praise on a leading opposition official accused of recruiting and training insurgents, before admitting him on Zim$150 million bail.

High Court judge, Justice Tedious Karwi released Ian Makone, the Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) director of elections and advisor to the opposition party's leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The judge said: "He has no previous convictions. It is common cause that the applicant has a long history of being socially and economically responsible.

"He is well educated as he holds two university degrees and was the first black general manager of the GMB (Grain Marketing Board). He has over the years held both managerial and directorship positions in many blue chip companies in the country.

"In considering this application I have taken into account the personal circumstances of the applicant. In particular, that he is aged 57 years old, that he is a married man with fixed abode, that he is a man of substance and that he has invested very heavily in this country. He appears to have his roots in this country. He is a well educated man."

The judge said Makone had left the court with the impression that although he was opposed to the government and wanted to see a change of government, he was opposed to the use of violent means.

He added that Makone estimates his personal fortune to be valued at over $22 billion.

The judge added: "In this respect I must point out that I do not agree with the approach taken by the respondent, in particular by Assistant Commissioner Mabunda that the applicant should be kept in custody at all costs because he is the most dangerous man in the country.

"This attitude would seem to suggest that the applicant is a convicted terrorist which obviously is not the case. Our law presumes people to be innocent until proven guilty."

Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi made frantic efforts to have Makone indefinitely locked up until his trial date.

Mohadi's interference, which resulted in him issuing a Ministerial Certificate to the court ordering the continued incarceration of the Makone and at least 31 other MDC activists facing charges of setting off petrol bombs at several police stations and trying to blow up two passenger trains, could not be sustained after Justice Karwi gave him bail.

Also arrested with Makone in March this year were Glen View MP Paul Madzore and prominent journalist Luke Tamborinyoka, who worked for the banned privately-owned Daily News newspaper. He had joined the MDC as a media consultant.

Justice Karwi ruled that Mohadi's Ministerial Certificate was not a good reason to deny Makone bail and that he was a suitable candidate to be released on bail.

He added that tight conditions should be imposed on Makone to ensure he stands trial.

In his ruling, Justice Karwi noted that the State failed to substantiate its claims that Makone would interfere with investigations, abscond trial and influence the State witnesses.

As part of the stringent conditions, Makone was ordered to surrender his travel documents to the police and to report daily at CID law and order section in Harare.

He was asked to surrender title deeds to his three residential stands in Bluffhill and Glen Lorne as surety.

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