/ 13 May 2009

Three Zim activists granted bail

A Zimbabwean high court judge on Wednesday granted bail to the last three of 18 activists charged with terrorism over an alleged plot to topple veteran President Robert Mugabe.

”It is ordered that the applicants are granted bail,” Justice November Mtshiya said in his ruling.

The three include freelance journalist Andrison Manyere, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s former aide Ghandi Mudzingwa, and the head of security in the premier’s Movement for Democratic Change party Chris Dhlamini.

Mtshiya in his ruling ordered them each to pay $1 000 as bail and to report once a week to their nearest police station.

The three have been in hospital since February, receiving treatment for medical problems they say were caused by their time in custody after their initial detention last year.

They were placed under prison guard while in hospital on May 5, when 15 other activists accused in the plot against Mugabe were again detained.

The other 15, who include prominent human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, were freed on bail one day later.

The activists were abducted by state security agents in separate incidents in November and December last year and held in secret camps where they say they were beaten while in custody.

They were later handed over to police, but were only seen in public when they began appearing in court in December.

Western donors have demanded the release of all political prisoners before considering aid for the cash-strapped government, which is seeking $8,5-billion to revive the devastated economy.

Rights groups also warned the detentions showed that Mugabe’s long-ruling Zanu-PF party was undermining Zimbabwe’s fledgling unity government. — Sapa-AFP