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Morgan Tsvangirai cleared of treason charges -

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Morgan Tsvangirai cleared of treason charges

AM - Saturday, 16 October , 2004 08:08:00

Reporter: Kirsten Aiken

HAMISH ROBERTSON: Now to southern Africa, where despite the perception that Zimbabwe's judiciary
has close links to the government, Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been cleared of
plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe.

After the decision was handed down in Harare, the man who had been facing the death penalty
triumphantly claimed the result as a victory for democracy and one which will spur on his party -
the Movement for Democratic Change.

This report by Kirsten Aiken.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: Zimbabwe's leading opposition figure had been accused of planning a coup d'etat by
conspiring to assassinate President Robert Mugabe before the 2002 general elections.

Morgan Tsvangirai claimed he was set up when he was covertly filmed discussing the elimination of
the President. Now, High Court Judge, Paddington Garwe, ruled the treason charge was not credible.

A relieved Mr Tsvangirai has told AM he was surprised to be let off.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: We didn't expect this kind of result. We expected... because of the political
control of the judiciary we expected an outcome, probably (inaudible) in a negative outcome.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: In a country where political intimidation and fear are the norm, Morgan Tsvangirai
can't explain why the High Court acquitted him on such a sensitive charge.

(To Morgan Tsvangirai) What does it say about Zimbabwe's judicial system and its independence from
Robert Mugabe?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: What does it say? It says maybe there's been a (inaudible) over this case. There
are so many cases where judges have been disregarded by the government, where judges have been
threatened.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: Do you think it could be an indication of the beginnings of a revolt within the
regime against Mugabe?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I really don't know whether this is the reason. But I think the crisis is so big
that Mugabe has to think about the way the country is going.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: There is a suggestion that Robert Mugabe ordered the acquittal because he feared a
guilty verdict, and its accompanying death sentence, could have seen Morgan Tsvangirai transformed
into a martyr, and the possibility that could

prompt a jump in support for his Movement for Democratic Change party.

Whatever the reason, Mr Tsvangirai believes the result is a moral boost for MDC's ongoing campaign
for free and fair elections, even though he has not yet made up his mind whether he will mount
another challenge against the man who's run Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in
1980.

(To Morgan Tsvangirai) What now for you and the MBC?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well, for the MBC I think the spirit is great. The people are really excited,
this has been a burden not only on me but on the people, so, with this burden over, the people will
remobilise again for all the challenges that we will face in the future.

HAMISH ROBERTSON: Zimbabwe Opposition Leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, speaking to Kirsten Aiken on a
rather poor quality phone line.

(c) 2006 ABC