HARARE - The defence team of Zimbabwean politician Roy Bennett has asked the high court judge in his terrorism trial to recuse himself, saying they feared bias.
Bennett's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said yesterday the defence team had asked Judge Chinembiri Bhunu during a hearing "whether he could hand over to another judge".
She said Bhunu said he would give his answer on Monday.
The trial was due to begin hearing evidence yesterday after Bhunu on Wednesday dismissed applications from the prosecution and the defence relating to the credibility of evidence.
Bennett's lawyers said the state's case was based on an unsigned confession from a convicted arms dealer, Peter Hitschmann, which had been obtained by torture.
The defence had wanted Hitschmann excluded from testifying. The state had sought to bar the defence from arguing Hitschmann was tortured into making the confession.
Mtetwa said she feared if Bhunu continued to preside over the trial, "it might be prejudicial to Bennett".
Bennett, 52, a white farmer whose lands were seized by Mugabe allies, is charged with the possession of weapons for the purposes of banditry, terrorism and insurgency in 2006. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The Movement for Democratic Change says the case is a ploy to keep Bennett out of the country's nine-month-old unity government. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has nominated Bennett for the post of deputy agriculture minister. - Sapa-dpa