By A Correspondent| Harare Businessman George Katsimberis has filed an urgent High Court application to stop the commencement of trial in the absence of a legal counsel of his choice.
Katsimberis’ lawyer Lewis Uriri told the court that he will only be available after 20 April but Harare Magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti Guwuriro proceeded to set the 30th of March as the day to commence trial in a case in which he is accused of fraud.
Warara had previously applied to have his client furnished with papers that he wanted in order to prepare for trial but Harare Magistrate Letwin Rwodzi dismissed the application.
Now Katsimberis wants the High Court to order the state to provide him with requested papers before trial kicks off.
In his urgent chamber application, Katsimberis cites Rwodzi, Muchuchuti Guwuriro, State Prosecutor Michael Reza and the Prosecutor General as first, second, third and fourth respondents respectively.
He argues that Guwuriro, who presided over his case on 25 March 2022 in the absence of Rwodzi wanted to force him to plead for the second time in order to kick off trial, to which he refused as his lawyer was not around due to other commitments.
“The proceedings of the 25th March 2022 in the Regional Magistrates Court with 1st Respondent presiding and 3rd Respondent prosecuting, show that the Court and the Prosecutor are intent on sacrificing accused’s right to Counsel of his choice for certain but unpronounced conviniences or interests,” reads part of Katsimberis’ application.
He accuses Guwuriro of proceeding to set 30 March 2022 for the commencement of trial despite having been earlier advised that his legal counsel of choice would not be available.
“Having been earlier advised that Applicant’s legal practitioner would not be available and well knowing that the legal practitioner was indeed not available, the court refused the application for a postponement for no plausible reason,” noted Katsimberis.
“Further, well knowing that Applicant’s Counsel would not be available on any day earlier than the 20th April 2022, 1st Respondent at the instance of 3rd Respondent went on to postpone the matter to the 30th March 2022,” he added.
Katsimberis says Guwuriro and Reza’s actions confirm a determination to deny him his constitutional right to legal representation by Counsel of his choice.