A MAN charged with murdering a charity volunteer in Africa has been acquitted by a judge who blasted the prosecution over the lack of "hard evidence" in the case.
A second man accused in relation to the death of Robert Stringer (26) is still at large, the High Court in Zanzibar was told.
Mr Stringer, from Newcastle, Co Wicklow, had been working with an Irish charity which recycles computers for Africa.
He was found dead on a beach on the holiday island of Zanzibar, 25 miles off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean on August 8, 2009.
Local police discovered the young man, who had suffered head injuries in a suspected mugging. His wallet and shoes were missing.
The High Court in Zanzibar acquitted Othman Hamad Khamis of Mr Stringer's murder.
And in his 25-page judgment, Judge Abraham Mwampashi lashed the prosecution for failing to bring strong evidence to the court.
The court said it had to acquit Mr Khamis because the prosecution was heavily relying on circumstantial evidence in a case where "hard evidence was of critical nature" to convince the court.
"The prosecution case against the accused person is based wholly on circumstantial evidence," the judgment read.
Mr Stringer, who had visited Zanzibar as a tourist, was found dead at a beach a few days after he had befriended Mr Khamis.
The court said it found evidence that Mr Stringer had been hit with an implement on the head. He died of injuries suffered in this attack. But the court heard there was no connection to Mr Khamis other than the fact that he knew him.
The pair had talked about business matters, as Mr Stringer was a volunteer and IT expert.
Judge Mwampashi confirmed that Mr Stringer's laptop, iPod and speakers, sun glasses, digital camera and a wallet with 1,000 Tanzanian shillings and $30 was in the Mr Khamis's possession but he said this did not prove "evil element".
The judge added: "I am baffled as to why no effort was taken to see what evidence could have been drawn from bank cards that were found with the accused person, or from the digital camera or from the computer to help support the case against the accused person."
He acquitted Mr Khamis and the prosecution did not lodge an appeal.