A high court judge has ruled that a human rights campaigner and about
30 others, mostly members of the Movement for Democratic Change, all
accused by police of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe,
should remain in jail. The continued
detentions are in defiance of an earlier high court order issued by a
different judge which should have freed them.
Court Judge Alphius Chitakunye ruled that a human rights worker and 30
others should remain in custody until they appear before a magistrate's
The judge also and refused to uphold an earlier
ruling ordering police to investigate and disclose the identities of
human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko's kidnappers, and where she had
Mukoko and the others are being held in a maximum
security prison with convicted prisoners although none have yet been
formally charged in court.
Opposition leaders say the
detention of Zimbabwe Peace Project leader Jestina Mukoko is part of Mr.
Mugabe's clampdown on pro-democracy activists.
Human Rights lawyer Beatrice Mtwetwa said Judge Chitakunye has shown there was "a breakdown of law and order" in Zimbabwe.
have been several court orders since a number of those in detention
were abducted from their homes or places of work since October. In each
case the police said they did not have them in custody.
to lawyers, the group began appearing in prison cells Christmas week
after being transferred from secret locations by Zimbabwe's Central
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said
two weeks before Christmas he would not take part in a unity government
until all those who had been abducted were released or charged in a
court of law.
Lawyers have asked the courts to identify those
who are responsible for the abductions. The first were a group of 15
kidnapped in October from their homes near a small farming town,
Most of the others were abducted mostly in December. Mukoko was abducted from her home on December 3.
are still unsure about how many are charged and how many are detained.
Some say the total is 31, including a two-year-old child.
is an existing court order, which has also been defied by the police,
condemning Harare police cells as unfit for human occupation.
Those in detention have told their lawyers that they have been assaulted and mistreated in detention.