Mark Vermeulen bailed over arson charges

Published: Saturday, November 4, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Former Test player Mark Vermeulen was granted bail of 2,000 US dollars after he appeared in court charged with arson attacks on the Zimbabwe cricket association's boardroom and training academy.

Vermeulen was also ordered by magistrates in Harare to surrender his passport, report on a daily basis to police and stay away from any cricket facility in the country ahead of his trial on Nov 14.

The 27-year-old, who is facing two counts of arson, was formally charged on Thursday, and if convicted he faces 25 years in prison with hard labour.

Outlining the prosecution case, state attorney Tawanda Zvekare said Vermeulen had threatened to "destroy" the governing body Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) after being told to play for a local club to have his form assessed before he could be considered for selection for an upcoming tour of Bangladesh.

"This did not go down well with the accused who verbally threatened that he was going to destroy Zimbabwe Cricket in two weeks," he said.

He first tried to torch the association's boardroom at the Harare Sports Club ground on Monday by sprinkling methylated spirit on the curtains and then setting it alight, said Zvekare.

But when that fire caused only minor damage, he went the next day to the training academy where he managed to burn down the pavilion, the prosecutor added.

Vermeulen was not asked to enter a plea but his lawyer, David Dhumbura, complained to the court that his client had been forced to "make indications to the police without the presence of his defence team."

Vermeulen, who played the last of his eight Tests in 2004, recently returned to Zimbabwe after a stint playing league cricket in England where he was slapped with a lengthy ban for throwing a ball at spectators.

He was also sent home from the 2003 tour of England after a string of run-ins with the management, including a refusal to travel with the rest of the team after he was twice out for a duck in the same Test match.


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