(CNN) -- A court in Zimbabwe dismissed charges of criminal abuse of office against an ally of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, saying Tuesday the state had failed to establish evidence against him.
Energy Minister Elton Mangoma was arrested in March after ordering the release of $6 million for importation of fuel from a South African company that was not on the government's fuel procurement list. At the time Zimbabwe was facing an acute shortage of diesel fuel.
High Court Justice Chinembiri Bhunu said Mangoma acted to rescue a desperate situation for the nation.
"The state failed to present evidence to show an intention of criminality. No reasonable court by any stretch of imagination would convict the accused. The court has no option but to discharge the accused at the close of the state's case," said Bhunu, sending the packed courtroom into frenzy.
Outside the court, members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change hugged and congratulated Mangoma before he talked to the press.
"I knew from the onset that this was persecution. As opposed to Zanu PF, what the MDC does is for the nation, which is what I did as proved by the court," said a clearly joyous Mangoma. Zanu PF is the party of President Robert Mugabe.
"But it is not over yet," Mangoma added, making a reference to next month, when he is expected to stand trial on another charge of criminal abuse of office.
State prosecutors allege that Mangoma "fixed" tenders for electricity meters for the state power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority. He denies the charge.
Mangoma was arrested twice in March on the charges, prompting Tsvangirai to demand the end of the fragile two-year old coalition government he formed with Mugabe. The dispute cooled down after the intervention of regional leaders.
Mangoma was arrested at a time a wave of prosecution was targeting Movement for Democratic Change's supporters and officials.