Katsimberis loses bid for magistrate’s recusal

Prosper Dembedza-Herald Correspondent

Harare regional magistrate Mrs Vongai Guwuriro has dismissed an application by George Katsimberis who wanted her to recuse herself from presiding over his fraud trial.

In his application, Katsimberis argued that the magistrate forced him to proceed to trial without the lawyer of his choice.

He also alleged that Mrs Guwuriro was biased and hostile towards him as she kept dismissing his applications.

In her ruling, Mrs Guwuriro said if the court is in a hurry to dispose of a matter that cannot be considered as a bias.

She said the dismissal of applications by the court was a question of law and therefore not a biased move.

“The fact that Ms (Millicent) Moyo is suing the court for defamation will not affect a fair trial as the accused has many lawyers at his disposal,” she said.

She said there was no nexus between her lawsuit and the fraud case.

Mrs Guwuriro further ruled that nothing had been put forward to justify her recusal, before dismissing the application.

Katsimberis’ lawyer, Advocate Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, stood up and told the court that he was seeking to make an application for review of this ruling at the High Court.

The matter was deferred to June 13.

The State led by Deputy Prosecutor-General, Mr Michael Reza, early this week opposed to the application saying the grounds given have nothing to do with Katsimberis, but involved a conversation between a stand-in lawyer and the magistrate over the absence of the main defence lawyer.

Mr Reza said lawyer Ms Millicent Moyo had misled the court in an application for a postponement of the trial of Katsimberis in February.

Ms Moyo is seeking US$170 000 damages from Harare magistrate Mrs Guwuriro for allegedly mischaracterising her application for a postponement in a trial after the lead counsel was absent. 

It is this dispute that is being used to seek Mrs Guwiriro’s recusal from presiding over Katsimberis’ trial.

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