Property developer George Katsimberis has said prosecutor Michael Reza’s head needs to be examined for making “wild claims” accusing the businessman of doctoring court records to scandalise the courts.
Katsimberis, who is in court for alleged fraud emanating from a botched deal with businessman Ken Sharpe; is seeking a referral to the Constitutional Court alleging that his rights have been violated during the ongoing trial.
During his cross-examination by his lawyer Tino Chinyoka, Katsimberis accused the court of doctoring the court record of proceedings of his trial to prejudice his application to the ConCourt.
He cited missing pages and dates from the transcript, the doctoring of his responses together with his lawyer’s questions, omission of sections deemed helpful to his case as well as the omission of sections unfavourable to Sharpe’s Pokugara Properties, the complainant in the case.
But on Wednesday, Reza accused Katsimberis of going into town and getting a document typed and then smuggling it into the court, which is not signed by the magistrate and the transcriber, ostensibly to scandalise the court.
The allegations did not go well with Katsimberis, who insisted he was given the document by the clerk of court.
He also disclosed that he asked for the recording of the proceedings but was given nothing. The transcript was provided at the instance of the magistrate.
But Reza, who remained combative throughour his cross-examination, said: “This document is your creation, you created it and you can not purport that it came from this honourable court because there is nothing that shows that it came from the court.
“You went to town and had this typed and you made all these alterations. That is what you did. You have brought your own forged document because you want to scandalise this court.”
But Katsimberis could not take the accusation lightly, telling Reza that he was responsible for the bastardisation of the court record and needed his head to be cross-examination for making the wild allegation.
“To answer you, it is obvious that you did it and for you to say I went to town and had it typed, you need your head to be cross-examined,” Katsimberis charged.
“In my view, if anything of what you say has an inch of logic, what is missing in there should not be to your benefit, the of Tatiana Aleshina (Sharpe’s aide) and the benefit of Pokugara, the complainant, but to myself.
“The document could not be against me. You need to be examined for those allegations.
Reza went on to claim that Katsimberis had no basis for going to the ConCourt because none of his rights were violated during the trial.
“If you don’t see any right that has been trampled on my constitutional rights in 20 ways, if in your view, you don’t see any right violated, you need to have your head examined,” said Katsimberis.
Magistrate Vongai Guriro had to intervene, ordering Katsimberis to stop making insinuations that Reza was insane.
Katsimberis’ decision to apply for a referral to the ConCourt resulted in the refusal of Guriro and Reza to recuse themselves from the case over “obvious” bias.
He accused them of acting as Sharpe’s hired guns, an allegation he repeated about Reza during Wednesday’s proceedings.
Chinyoka had to come to his client’s rescue against Reza’s combative cross-examination, warning the prosecutor to stick to questioning and avoid being personal when his name was mentioned.
He cautioned Reza to keen the proceedings to be “as objective, and not subjective as possible.”
“What he (Reza) cannot do is argue with the witness (Katsimberis),” Chinyoka said.
“The problem with this case is that Mr Reza is too close to the testimony. He is mentioned as a player in the evidence, so as a human being, he feels offended if something is said about him.”
He added: “What he cannot do here is to say Reza is mentioned and I should defend Reza. Mr Katsimberis is the one on trial and he should be allowed to make his answers and then the court will make an assessment.”
Before Reza’s cross-examination, Katsimberis told the court that the transcript was doctored to guarantee him a conviction and also to ensure that any appeal against that conviction would not succeed.
He said the doctoring was done to suit the interests of Reza, Aleshina, Pokugara and Sharpe to suit Reza’s plan.
He said the general pattern of omitted information and criminal distortion of the record was deliberate to suit Pokugara’s plan.
Asked by Chinyoka if it was not a possibility that Aleshina, who has been involving President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s name in the trial and barking orders to Harare City Council officials, that she visited the transcriber and masterminded the doctoring of the transcript, Katsimberis said he was 100 percent sure that this was what happened.
He dwelled on some letters by Aleshina and her lawyers, Chinawa Law Chambers presented in court as exhibit 2, which shows that Aleshina had several meetings with Harare City Council officials who were also accused people in a police report by Katsimberis, something he said was tantamount to interfering with witnesses.
Katsimberis said the objective of the meetings was to change the narrative to incriminate him.
He accused Reza of doctoring the letters dated 26 June 2019 to suit Pokugara Properties and denying providing a copy of the letter which does not even form a police record.
“This letter of 26 June is a creation of Mr Reza, it did not come from anywhere,” Katsimberis said.
“That is why we are asking for police record that Mr Reza will not supply because he created the letter when investigating the case to try to make it balanced. He is trying to do what he is paid for,” Katsimberis said, insisting Reza was very compromised, in an unprofessional relationship with Aleshina.