Zimbabwe inquest of Solomon Mujuru 'achieved nothing'

Solomon Mujuru photographed in August 2009
Image caption Solomon Mujuru's death in a farmhouse fire has been the subject of much speculation

A lawyer for the family of Zimbabwe's ex-military chief Solomon Mujuru has said the official inquiry into his death has not achieved anything.

Gen Mujuru, one of Zimbabwe's most senior politicians and married to Vice-President Joice Mujuru, was found dead after a fire at his farm last year.

After hearing from 38 witnesses, the inquest said it had no evidence about how the fire started, the lawyer said.

Thakor Kewada said the Mujuru family wanted to exhume his body.

He said that magistrate Walter Chikwanha had ruled that Gen Mujuru had died from "carbonisation" - the report has not yet been published.

"We are no better off than before the inquiry started," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

The death of such a powerful figure has been the subject of much controversy in Zimbabwe and Mr Kewada said doubts still remain.

"I don't think the verdict brings closure," he said.

"The authorities should allow us to exhume the body and get the pathologist we wish to call to examine the body."

He said Vice-President Mujuru had not yet gone through the inquest's report.

During the hearings, the inquest heard that an on-duty policeman was asleep when the fire that killed Gen Mujuru started.

After waking, the policeman said he was unable get help as his phone had run out of credit and his radio was faulty.

The inquest also heard that when the fire-brigade arrived at the farm, it had no water to extinguish the blaze.

Gen Mujuru was a highly influential figure in President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

Under his nom de guerre, Rex Nhongo, he was the director of Mr Mugabe's forces during the 1970s war of independence.

At independence in 1980 he took over the command of the army, before retiring and going into business 10 years later.

At the time of his death, he was believed to have been pushing for leadership renewal within Zanu-PF.

The BBC's Brian Hungwe in Harare says Gen Mujuru was the only person believed to have had the stature to challenge Mr Mugabe during party meetings.

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