Former Finance Minister Biti convicted for assaulting foreign investor

Opposition politician Tendai Biti has been convicted for assaulting a Russian national and investor Tatiana Aleshina in 2020.

The top lawyer was found guilty after a full trial during which he denied the allegations arguing that the charge against him did not form a criminal offence.

Biti’s prosecution followed an incident at the Harare Magistrates Court, where there was an exchange of words between him and Aleshina, who is involved in a property dispute with one of Biti’s clients.

The presiding magistrate said people cannot be allowed to call each other “idiots” and go scot-free.

“What remains critical is that she went to receive medication. She was prescribed some medication although she refused to be admitted.

“It is not in dispute that the accused and complainant had a verbal altercation on the day in question and the accused called the complainant a stupid idiot.

“All the witnesses except the doctor have confirmed that the incident occurred.

“The evidence that is clearly standing out is that the accused pointed a finger at the complainant.

“The State has managed to prove that the accused uttered the words which the accused confirmed himself.

“All the witnesses are credible witnesses and the court has no reason to doubt their testimonies.

“The evidence of all the state witnesses cannot be said to be worthless as alleged by the accused.

“For those reasons, I find the accused person guilty.”

Biti, who denied wrongdoing, admits calling Aleshina an “idiot”, but maintains that there was no physical confrontation.

He argued that he was being charged with the most spurious, the most desperate of all charges.

But the magistrate said the fact that he spent three years fighting prosecution shows that this was not a trivial offence.

Biti once sought Constitutional Court intervention after his application was dismissed by Muchuchuti with no luck.

His several efforts to avert trial also flopped after his applications were trashed by both the High Court and the lower court.

The trial commenced recently despite several protests by the lawyer who also sought recusal of the magistrate with no luck.

Muchuchuti last year refused to step down, prompting Biti to approach the High Court.

The politician’s appeal was also dismissed.

Aleshina alleges that she was verbally assaulted by Biti for no reason.

The incident, she alleges, left her traumatised and humiliated since she had never been intimidated in that manner before.

After the insult, Aleshina claims she developed some stress-related health complications and had to seek medical remedy.

She also rushed to seek refuge at the Russian embassy because she believed Biti wanted to attack her.

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