POLICE in Zimbabwe defied a High Court order for the release to hospital of a leading human rights activist and eight other opposition campaigners, taking them off to an undisclosed location yesterday.
On Wednesday, Jestina Mukoko and the eight activists were charged in court with recruiting or attempting to recruit people, including a police officer, to plot the overthrow of President Robert Mugabe. It was the first time most of the accused had been seen since they were seized three weeks ago by armed men saying they were police.
In court, judge Yunus Omarjee surprised observers by ordering the release of Ms Mukoko, her co-accused and 23 other detainees on the grounds their detention was illegal. The judge ordered that they be taken to a Harare hospital until their next court appearance, on Monday.
A lawyer for the opposition activists, Alec Muchadehama, said all nine had been taken to Chikurubi maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Harare. However, it was impossible to verify this.