Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Zim activist released

from the NYTimes

JOHANNESBURG — Jestina Mukoko, a prominent human rights campaigner in Zimbabwe who was abducted at dawn three months ago by state security agents, was freed on bail on Monday along with four other activists after President Robert Mugabe authorized their release, the detainees’ lawyers said...

Six other activists remain in jail despite having been granted bail on Friday, because the terms of their release require them to put up the deeds to property worth $20,000 — but they have no property, Mr. Makoni said.

Another significant test loomed in the decision expected on Tuesday by a High Court judge in Harare on whether Roy Bennett, the treasurer of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and Mr. Tsvangirai’s nominee as deputy agriculture minister, would be freed.

Mr. Bennett, who had been living in exile in South Africa, was arrested in Zimbabwe on Feb. 13 on three-year-old accusations that were tainted by the torture of the man who implicated him. Mr. Bennett, a combative politician despised by many in Mr. Mugabe’s party, is charged with possessing guns and intending to use them in acts of sabotage against the state.

The main accuser in the case, Peter Michael Hitschman, who was convicted on a lesser weapons charge, was burned with cigarettes on his buttocks after his arrest in 2006 and was told that his wife and son, who were in police custody, would be harmed if he did not implicate Mr. Bennett, according to George Lock and Trust Maanda, lawyers who represented Mr. Hitschman and Mr. Bennett. ...

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