Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Man seeks return of US$300m diamonds

A MAN found with US$300 million worth of diamonds has filed a High Court application to have the gems returned to him following the collapse of his trial.

Newman Chiadzwa, 55, of Marange, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison last year over the possession of 43,028 carats of diamonds.

The High Court quashed the sentence in June this year on a technicality, prompting Chiadzwa to approach prosecutors, who used the diamonds as an exhibit during his trial.

Court officials said the diamonds, weighing a total of 8.61 kilograms, had been handed over to officials from the Mines Ministry.
Chiadzwa's lawyers said Tuesday they had had no luck getting them back from the ministry.

Chiadzwa was charged with illegal possession of precious minerals and sentenced to five years in jail. He appealed against both sentence and conviction to the High Court.

At first instance, on May 18, 2010, Justice Yunus Omerjee threw out his application for bail pending review of his conviction, telling him he had little prospects of success in overturning his conviction.

But on June 29 this year, Justice Andrew Mutema passed a default judgment quashing the lower court's ruling after the Attorney General failed to file his opposition.

Last month, the Attorney General launched an appeal seeking a reversal of the default judgement and Chiadzwa’s immediate return to prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

The Attorney General said he had not been served with a set down notice for the June 29 hearing at which Justice Mutema passed the default judgement.

The AG also argued that Justice Mutema made the judgement without the concurrence of another judge, as provided in terms of the law.
The appeal is pending.

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