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Land Developer Forced To Stand Trial Without Legal Representation

Harare land developer George Katsimberis yesterday described his alleged fraud trial as a circus after Harare regional magistrate Wongai Guwuriro Muchuchuti ordered that trial proceed without his lawyer of choice.

Katsimberis had through Tawanda Kanengoni who was standing in a limited capacity tried to seek a postponement of the matter pending determination of an urgent chambers application filed at the High Court.

The urgent application sought stay of yesterday’s proceedings after Guwuriro insisted that trial proceed without defence counsel Advocate Lewis Uriri who is Katsimberis’ lawyer of choice.

Uriri had advised last Friday that he will only be available on April 20 as he is ceased with other matters.

Guwuriro dismissed the application for postponement and ordered that trial proceed.

However, Katsimberis insisted that the court had denied him legal representation of his choice therefore cannot defend himself.

“Legally I cannot defend myself without my lawyer because I do not understand some legal technicalities which need interpretation from my lawyer. I object to plead, I have been denied right to my lawyer. I can continuously stumble and fall. I do not understand the language of pleading because I do not have a legal representation,” Katsimberis charged.

Magistrate Guwuriro insisted that he proceed to give his defence outline with Katsimberis arguing that he still has no papers that will enable him to defend his case.

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“I cannot give my defence outline because the papers are with my lawyers. I am not able to do that since all my files are with my lawyer. I do not choose to remain silent because I have to defend myself in these proceedings. I need to start afresh on my own. It is the court that has put me in this situation,” said Katsimberis.

Prosecutor Michael Reza accused the land developer of holding the court at ransom however, Katsimberis fired back saying it is the court the State that is holding otherwise.

“If there is anyone holding the court at ransom it is Mr Reza himself by not providing me with the documents that I requested. By not providing the transcripts, I certainly don’t understand why I landed in this circus, a different magistrate, I am told that is not correct. I don’t understand why I am not in front of Mrs Rwodzi. I do not understand why the State did not provide documents.

“I do not understand the logic that the State is held to ransom. You have denied me the right to a lawyer of my choice, you have refused me to get a lawyer of your choice to top it all up the new magistrate is saying you must now give your defence outline honestly what do you expect, this is a circus. I need to question the witnesses with the documents that I requested.

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“I need to understand what am I doing here? Is it correct I am not in front of Mrs Rwodzi? Am I allowed documents? Am I allowed transcripts and which documents were refused by yourself, there are apparently 30 to 40 documents that were requested and I am not actually sure which documents was refused. There is not one document that has been given by the State that we had asked for. Mr Reza and the court stop abusing me, I am not abusing you,” Katsimberis charged.

Trial continues today with the businessman expected to give his defence without his lawyer of choice.

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