NewsZimbabwe opposition leader sentenced over insult to Russian

Zimbabwe opposition leader sentenced over insult to Russian

Customers browse fresh fruit at a produce stall in the central business district of Harare, Zimbabwe, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. Zimbabwe may back its currency with gold in an effort to end exchange-rate instability, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said. Photographer: Cynthia R Matonhodze/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Customers browse fresh fruit at a produce stall in the central business district of Harare, Zimbabwe, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. Zimbabwe may back its currency with gold in an effort to end exchange-rate instability, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said. Photographer: Cynthia R Matonhodze/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Images source: © GETTY | Bloomberg

11:57 PM EST, February 28, 2024

The former finance minister received a suspended six-month prison sentence and was ordered to pay a 300-dollar fine.

The legal proceedings began following a complaint from Aleszina, who reported to the police after Biti's insult. "Feeling dizzy, shaking, and nearly fainting, I got really upset when Biti, pointing his finger at my face, yelled 'you stupid idiot'," she recounted in court.

Aleszina sought 100,000 dollars in compensation from Biti for the "stress, trauma, and weeks of therapy" she needed following the incident. Despite Biti's multiple apologies, Aleszina refused to retract her accusation.

This is not Biti's first conviction. In 2019, the court handed him a six-month prison term for challenging official election results by declaring them fraudulent and providing his own. These were the elections following the coup that ousted Zimbabwe's long-standing ruler, Robert Mugabe, and saw Emmerson Mnangagwa's victory.

Biti avoided prison back then as the judge suspended the sentence for five years.

Bizarre verdict in Zimbabwe with Russia in the background

Zimbabwe has publicly supported Russian policies several times and hasn't joined the global community in isolating Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. Last July, during the Russia-Africa summit in Petersburg, President Mnangagwa met with Putin.

During this meeting, Putin presented Mnangagwa with a helicopter, and last Friday, Harare received the first shipment of 25,000 tons of grain, a gift from Russia.

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