Zimbabwe opposition cabinet nominee freed on bail

[JURIST] Zimbabwean authorities on Thursday released jailed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website] party treasurer general and opposition cabinet member-designate Roy Bennett [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], one day after the nation's Supreme Court denied a state appeal to keep him in prison. Bennett, a top aide to MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], faces charges under Zimbabwe's Public Order and Security Act [materials] for "attempting to commit terrorism, banditry and sabotage." Under the terms of his bail [Times report], Bennett had to pay USD $5,000 and surrender his passport, and he must report to police three times a week. Last week, the High Court rejected a state appeal seeking to deny Bennett bail [TGZ report], finding that the conditions of Bennett's release, set last month, were adequate. The attorney general's office then appealed that ruling [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court.

Bennett, who was arrested last month shortly before he was scheduled to be sworn as deputy agriculture minister in the new power-sharing coalition government [BBC report] led by Tsvangirai, is accused [JURIST report] of funding the purchase of fire arms and explosives intended to be used as part of an insurgency. It is feared that Bennett's arrest could pose a threat to the power-sharing agreement [JURIST report] between the MDC and the African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party of President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Bennett was originally sought for questioning [JURIST report] in relation to the allegations in 2006, but he had been seeking asylum in South Africa until recently [IOL report]. Treason charges against him were dropped [Times report] in favor of the terrorism and other charges.



 

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