Acting High Court Judge Moses Chinhengo has dismissed an application by Fishrot accused Sacky Shanghala and his co-accused to postpone their case for up to eight months.

Judge Chinhengo did not entertain Shanghala's application, ordering the former Justice Minister and his co-accused to enter a plea.

Chinhengo's ruling paved the way for the state to put the charges against the accused.

Former Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala made the submission to High Court Judge Moses Chinhengo Tuesday morning, asking that he, together with other accused in the matter, be given more time to prepare for the trial.

Shanghala and nine of his co-accused were expected to plead on a myriad of charges, including corruption, fraud, and racketeering, which emanated from allegations of mismanagement of the country's fishing resources.

James Hatuikuilipi, Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo, and Shanghala represented themselves, informing the court that they have no funds to pay for legal representation.

He informed the court that he and his co-accused are not ready to enter pleas until the funding of their legal representation is resolved.

The former Justice Minister informed the Court that he and his co-accused are aggrieved by Judge Chinhengu's order, which set December 5th as the date for the accused persons to plead to the charges, arguing that the order was unconstitutional and violates their rights to a fair trial.

The pleas fell on deaf ears with Judge Chinhengo, who remarked that the accused had ample time to get their financial businesses in order.

Advocate Ed Marondedze, representing the state, maintained that the state has been ready since February 2021 to proceed with the matter and asked the court to be more strict in dealing with the accused.

Sacky Shanghala, Ricardo Gustavo, and Pius Mwatelulo also asked that the court release them from detention to allow them to better prepare for trial, an application the court did not entertain at all.

They were asked to make a more coordinated application for possible bail consideration.

The state, however, argued that all the accused persons have already applied for bail and even sought the intervention of the Supreme Court, but have been denied bail in all these instances.

Advocate Marondedze argued that the accused should remain in custody and that the state will oppose any application for them to be released.

The hearing continues tomorrow morning, with the state expected to continue putting the charges against the accused.

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Emil Xamro Seibeb