By Court Reporter
HARARE – Property developer Georgios Katsimberis wants the court to order cross-examination of Acting Deputy Prosecutor Michael Reza in order to expose his deceit, falsehoods and subversion of justice in favour of Ken Sharpe and his associates.
Katsimberis made the request in a statement responding to the State’s response to his application to have Reza recuse himself in a case he is accused of fraudulently securing a housing plan for a house.
The property developer described Reza’s response to his application as “a tissue of lies, an attempt at evasive sophistry, and an unsavoury dish of irrelevant bluster and bombast with no value to the decision that is needed to be made by the court.”
He said a response is a legal answer to legal issues raised in an application and the one submitted by Reza runs short of being one, but precisely a testimony from the Bar.
In summary, Katsimberis said Reza was ranting in. his “opinionated” response that is far from being an interpretation of the law.
“In reply to the accused’s application to have the prosecutor recused from the case, the State has filed what purports to be a response to the application but is in reality confirmation of why it is in the best interests of justice in this case that the prosecutor be recused,” his lawyer, Tinomudaishe Chinyoka wrote in a response dated January 17.
“The reply can be summed up in the following manner: it reads like an affidavit until it is not? It should be an affidavit but it is not; it starts off reading like a rant and ends like one.”
He added: “Given the nature and content of the reply, it seems wrong to refer to it as the ‘State’s response’ as it is in fact Michael Reza’s defence of his conduct.
“In the words of Shakespeare, the response is like a tale, told by a not so wise person, full of sound and fury, insignificant nothing.”
Prior to Reza’s response, Katsimberis had filed a court application seeking the recusal of the acting deputy prosecutor for his role in facilitating the arrest of one of his key witnesses.
Katsimberis argued that Reza had penned a letter to the police on October 14, 2022 alleging that the witness, Roy Nyabvure, a former Harare City Council chief building inspector had finished testifying.
As a result, Nyabvure was arrested in October last year at Harare Magistrate’s court soon after testifying in a different case where Zivanai Macharaga from the Special Anti-Corruption Unit, is the prosecutor against Sharpe, his associate Tatiana Aleshina, Van Blerk and others.
Chinyoka said by assisting the police in arresting Nyabvure, the prosecutor had contravened section 69 of the constitution which guarantees right to a fair and public trial hence the need for Reza to be recused.
High Court judge justice Pisirayi Kwenda also castigated Reza for his role in the arrest of Nyabvure, describing his conduct as a disgrace to the country’s judiciary system.
Reza however responded by declining to recuse himself saying Katsimberis was bullying other prosecutors and he was the only court officer who could handle the businessman. He said Katsimberis viewed himself as the sitting president who cant be prosecuted.
Further, Reza dismissed Katsimberis’ application on the grounds of lacking statutory provisions.
In response, Chinyoka said the court must direct that Reza takes the oath, makes his factual rebuttal under oath and then be subject to cross examination by the defence counsel given the charges leveled against him.
“The unrebutted allegations which must be taken as admitted are that Michael Reza is the one that told the police where to arrest Roy Nyabvure because, contrary to the claims in his letter of 14 October 2022.
“The knew that Roy Nyabvure was a state witness and he knew exactly when Roy Nyabvure was coming to court. In so doing, he committed acts that are criminal in nature, and a report has been made to the police. These allegations are clear from the application. They are not denied,” wrote Chinyoka.
Some of the issues that Reza will need to be cross-examined for include, having knowledge on whether Nyabvure was/is a witness in another matter, namely the case of State vs Pokugara Properties (Private) Limited, City of Harare and 10 Others pertaining to the Malicious Damage to Property (MDP).
Reza will also be questioned on whether or not the factual statement made in paragraph six of the state response that he does not know Kenneth Sharpe and has never spoken to him is factually correct.
In his letter to the police, Reza said he spoke to Nyabvure’s counsel, a fact that Chinyoka disputed saying the prosecutor would need to be cross examined on whether or not he spoke to any defence counsel as he alleges in paragraph eight at of his response.
“The undisputed facts in this case and the reply to the application speak for themselves and reveal that Michael Reza’s behaviour has fallen short of the customary standards of fairness and detachment demanded for a prosecutor.
“His behaviour and actions instill a belief that if the case remains in his hands there is, at the very least, a real risk that he would not conduct the trial with due regard to the basic rights and dignity of the accused.
“The instruction to arrest the accused’s chief witness, the only person that can speak to the authenticity of the building plans, portrays a biased and vindictive approach,” read Chinyoka’s application.
According to the businessman, Reza during his oral submissions in court had disregarded the law by claiming he would do anything to win the cases he prosecutes.
“He is fixated on winning, as shown by his claim in oral address that “I take no prisoners”, yet the role of the prosecutor excludes an notion of winning or losing, his function is a matter of public duty than which in civil life there can be none charged with greater personal responsibility.”
Having demonstrated and stated a desire to “take no prisoners” and therefore to win, according to submission by Katsimberis, it was impossible to see how Reza would recall the duty of the prosecutor, to place before all material essential for the investigation of the truth.
“The letter of 14 October 2022 is evidence that the prosecutor involved himself in investigations, something that the Supreme Court stated in Smyth vs Ushewokunze and Another 1997 (2) ZIR 544 he must not do.
“It is for this reason that it is submitted that the Court must order that evidence be led as argued herein to allow the claims made by the state to be tested under cross examination, particularly as they seem to be patently false,” read the submissions.
“The undisputed facts in this case and the reply ot the application speak for themselves and reveal that Michael Reza’s behaviour has fallen short of the customary standards of fairness and detachment demanded for a prosecutor.
“His behaviour and actions instill a belief that if the case remains in his hands there is, at the very least, a real risk that he would not conduct the trial with due regard ot hte basic rights and dignity fo the accused.”
He added: “The instruction of arrest the accused’s chief witness, the only person that can speak to the authenticity of the building plans, portrays a biased and vindictive
“It is for this reason that it is submitted that the Court must order that evidence be led as argued herein to allow the claims made by the state to be tested under
cross examination, particularly as they seem to be patently false.”