Zimbabwe court delays ruling on release of rights activist

[JURIST] A Zimbabwean court on Monday delayed ruling on whether leading human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko [advocacy website] and eight other activists charged with plotting to overthrow the government should be released pending trial. Mukoko, the head of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, and eight other activists were charged last week [JURIST report] with recruiting or attempting to recruit people to undergo military training to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] government. Following accusations of police torture, a High Court judge declared the detention of Mukoko and her codefendants unlawful and ordered that they be taken to a private hospital and given police protection. The government immediately appealed the decision and neither Mukoko nor her codefendants have appeared at the hospital. Several of the accused appeared in court with bloodied and swollen faces [AP report].

Mukoko played a key role in monitoring and publicizing the wave of violence that hit the country before and after recent presidential elections and the run-off elections [JURIST reports] that followed. Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], presidential candidate of the Movement for Democratic Change [party website], have been disputing results of March elections for months. They signed a power-sharing agreement [Harare Tribune text] in September, under which Mugabe would remain president, Tsvangirai would become prime minister, and each would have two deputies. The agreement, however, has been stymied over disagreements regarding division of top Cabinet posts, and violence and allegations of human rights violations continue to mar the election results, with the MDC estimating that nearly 100 of its members have been killed since March, and more than 100 imprisoned [AFP report].

 

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