Zimbabwe state media reports a group of civil rights activists and Movement for Democratic Change officials are to be charged with attempting to recruit people to overthrow President Robert Mugabe. Dozens of MDC and pro-democracy activists have not been seen since they were abducted during the past two months.
Zimbabwe Peace Project head Jestina Mukoko was brought to court Wednesday in Harare. Zimbabwe police officials had denied holding Mukoko, who had not been seen since being taken from her home at gunpoint on December 3, the day activists held nationwide protests against the country's deepening economic and health crises.
The state-run Herald newspaper said the activists would be charged with recruiting or attempting to recruit people to undergo military training to topple the government. The newspaper cited a police statement that alleged the activists had recruited people for military training in Botswana.
Conviction on the charges could lead to the death penalty.
Lawyers representing the activists have not been able to get medical attention for their clients or deliver them food.
Irene Petras of Lawyers for Human Rights said 14 people were found Tuesday at various police stations, but 11 more are still missing. She said the activists have fundamental rights and freedoms that are being violated with complete impunity.
Petras said the activists may have been subjected to torture and other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment to unlawfully extract false confessions. Authorities had no immediate comment on those allegations.
A senior ZANU-PF official and the party's negotiator at inter-party talks to form an inclusive government, Patrick Chinamasa, two weeks ago accused the MDC of training insurgents in Botswana. The MDC and Botswana deny the accusation.
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is also the chairman of the Southern African Development Community that is facilitating Zimbabwe's inter-party talks, said he does not believe the MDC has training camps in Botswana.
A week ago, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced he would have no further negotiations with ZANU-PF unless all those abducted in recent weeks were charged or released.
Among those detained or missing and not yet charged are MDC Security Department Director Chris Dlamini and Ghandi Mudzingwa a close associate of party president Tsvangirai.