The treason trial of opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and two of his top men opened in Harare on 3 February, but where are the MDC supporters?
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, party secretary general Welshman Ncube and shadow agriculture minister Renson Gasela, allegedly contracted a Canadian company Dickens & Madson, headed by a former Israeli secret agent, to assassinate President Robert Mugabe ahead of last year's presidential election because they were not confident that Tsvangirai would beat Mugabe.
The MDC officials deny the charge, but Ari Ben-Menashe, head of Dickens & Madson and former Mossad officer, told the High Court that Tsvangirai, Ncube and Gasela signed a contract with his company to kill Mugabe with the assistance of the American CIA and the British MI6 which had promised Tsvangirai [pounds sterling]6.5m to pay for the assassination.
As part of his evidence, Ben-Menashe produced video recordings in court of a series of meetings his company held with the MDC trio in London and Montreal, Canada, to allegedly arrange the assassination.
He said the MDC officials were at times accompanied to the meetings by a CIA officer whom he named in court as Edward Simms, and they offered US$500,000 for Mugahe's head, of which a deposit of US$100,000 was paid.
The assassination, according to Ben-Menashe (the main state witness in the case), was to look like an accident to cool expected high public emotions after Mugabe's death, and was to involve Zimbabwe's Air Force commander, Air Marshall Perence Shiri.
"The understanding in this contract was that we would help eliminate, kill the President of Zimbabwe, President Mugabe, help them [the MDC] with a coup d'etat, with the help of the commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and help put together a government of national unity," Ben-Menashe told the court.
In the video recordings played in court, Tsvangirai is seen and heard discussing "the elimination of Mugabe" and a coup plot, but his lawyers told justice Paddington Garwe, the presiding judge, that Tsvangirai's words on the tape had been altered by Dickens & Madson. The MDC trio have, however, admitted holding meetings with Dickens & Madson and making a payment of US$100,000 to the company, but allegedly for public relations work in North America.
The US embassy in Harare has declined to comment on the implication of the CIA in the assassination plot, citing standard procedure of not commenting on...