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Extended Detention Of Zimbabwean Opposition Members Finally Ends

An opposition member of Zimbabwe's parliament held by police since March, when the government intensified a general political crackdown, was released Wednesday based on a high court decision Tuesday granting bail to him and 16 other activists.

Madzore's release brought to an end the extended detention of opposition members through extraordinary legal procedures and repeatedly modified criminal charges.

MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama said Glen View member of parliament Paul Madzore and another activist, Amos Musekiwa, were released late Wednesday. They had been held overnight Tuesday by police despite the high court order, pending the disposition of charges of public violence in December 2006 in a further remand hearing.

Another 13 activists, including Philip Mabika, Peter Chikwati and Tsvangirai faction youth secretary Solomon Madzore, were released earlier Wednesday. Two activists, Philip Katsande and Shame Wakatama, were released on Tuesday.

Activist Solomon Madzore told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his release showed there was no basis to the charges against them, which were related to firebombings carried out in March against police posts.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti said his party views the releases as indicating the innocence of the activists rather than a conciliatory move by the government.

More reports by VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...