Zimbabwe’s former Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, has been released on bail after he was arrested and charged yesterday for allegedly assaulting a Russian national.
Biti, who is the vice president of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was granted a $10,000 bail after spending the night behind bars.
Provincial head magistrate in Harare, Vongai Muchuchuti, set the case against the 53 years old for trial on January 18.
Biti’s arrest follows an incident at the Harare Magistrates Court on November 30 where there was an exchange of words between him and Russian national Tatiana Aleshina, who is involved in a property dispute with one of Biti’s clients.
Biti, who denies wrongdoing, admits calling Aleshina an “idiot”, but maintains that there was no physical confrontation.
Writing on Twitter after his arrest on Friday, Biti said: “I have been stuck at CID Law and Order since 11 AM being charged with the most spuriousthe most desperate of all charges.
“It is said I called someone an idiot and that is said to be an assault. No amount of harassment will prevent us from fighting and exposing corruption. They want to detain me overnight, so be it.”
According to his party, Biti, who is a qualified lawyer, only crime was unearthing anti-graft scandal against Aleshina, the complainant.
“Biti’s only crime is unearthing the corruption scandal concerning the Harare Airport Road land deal involving the complainant, Aleshina and businessmen linked to (President) Emmerson Mnangagwa,” the MDC said in a tweet.
His lawyer Alec Muchadehama also argued that Zimbabwean police “not working on their own.
“There is an external force telling them what to do and who to arrest,” he said.
Biti has previously been charged with treason, among other criminal offences.
Zimbabwean police have in the past arrested several opposition officials, which the party argues is a way of weakening their struggle against the ruling ZANU PF.
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