Friday, May 15, 2009

ZIMBABWE ACTIVISTS' LAWYER BAIILED

Jestina Mukoko arrives at court in Harare (24/12/2008)
Activist Jestina Mukoko is among those represented by Mr Muchadehama

A lawyer representing the Zimbabwean activists who are charged with terrorism has been freed on bail in the capital Harare, a day after his arrest.

Alec Muchadehama, who was accused of improperly arranging bail for three of the 18 accused activists, says prosecutors were trying to silence him.

The activists are charged with plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, which they deny.

The case has deepened tensions in the country's unity government.

"This is a continuation of harassment of human rights defenders," a leading Zimbabwean lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, told Reuters news agency.

"I hope this is something the inclusive government will address. This is intimidation," she added.

Mr Muchadehama is among a group of lawyers working on behalf of human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko and 17 other activists.

The activists say that they were abducted by state security agents in December and tortured into confessing to terrorism charges.

Analysts say it is the latest in a series of moves which could threaten the stability of Zimbabwe's coalition government, formed by rivals President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

On Thursday, Mr Tsvangirai's MDC party condemned Mr Muchadehama's arrest, calling it politically motivated and vindictive.

Mr Tsvangirai has said that such violations of the power-sharing deal jeopardise promises of aid from Western donors, which are dependent on evidence of political reform.


BBC NEWS REPORT.

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