Tsvangirai ally to be tried Oct. 13 for terrorism

HARARE Wed Jul 1, 2009 7:56pm IST

Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) national treasurer Roy Bennet gestures as he leaves Mutare remand prison in Mutare in this March 12, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/Files

Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) national treasurer Roy Bennet gestures as he leaves Mutare remand prison in Mutare in this March 12, 2009 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo/Files

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HARARE (Reuters) - A senior official in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party will stand trial in Zimbabwe in October on terrorism charges, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

The case against Roy Bennett has deepened divisions in the fragile unity government formed in February between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change to end a long-running political crisis and a decade of economic ruin.

Bennett, the MDC's treasurer-general, has been nominated as deputy agriculture minister and is among only a few remaining white founder members of the party.

The former coffee farmer was arrested in February, accused of plotting against the Mugabe government. He will go on trial in the eastern city of Mutare, charged with illegal possession of arms for purposes of terrorism and banditry.

He denies the charges but faces life in jail if convicted.

"They (prosecutors) have set 13 October as the trial date but they also relaxed his bail conditions. He will report to the police twice a month instead of once every week," Bennett's lawyer Trust Maanda said.

Tsvangirai has previously said Bennett will be sworn in as junior minister next month when five MDC officials are scheduled to take their positions as provincial governors as part of the political agreement between MDC and ZANU-PF.

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