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Zimbabwe Political Prisoners Put Back Under Guard


Last Friday, Zimbabwe's remaining three political prisoners were released on bail. Two remained in the hospital nursing injuries sustained after they were detained late last year. But they are now back under armed prison guard at the hospital.

Ghandi Mudzingwa was picked up by plain clothes men in Harare last November and taken to a prison cell. He said he was tortured and accused of bombing a police station in Harare. His case went to court several times and his freedom was ordered repeatedly by the High Court and opposed by the state.

Mudzingwa is the former personal assistant to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

He was released Friday and all guards were removed from the hospital. But he says he was alarmed when police visited him and MDC director of security Chris Dlamini theis week.

"We feared the worst that we were going through a repeat of November and December when we were abducted," said Dlamini. "After the abduction we found ourselves in prison cells without a warrant of committal. I was tortured. The worst of it was water boarding, when they put water in this laundry sink, you are blindfolded then they put a sack cloth on your face, dip you in it, in it, legs raised right up - they are drowning you, then when they take you out, they throw you to the floor. Honestly I thought I was going to die."

Mudzingwa said he believes officials are trying to derail the political agreement to form an inclusive government.

"It is just a ploy," he said. "They do not want this inclusive government to work. If it works it takes away the gravy train for them."

Chris Dlamini has also made allegations of torture to the media.

He says he also endured water boarding and believed he was going to die. He said he signed a confession in which he revealed details, which he said he made up, of MDC military training in neighboring Botswana to overthrow Mr. Mugabe.

"That was so bad. The first time I have ever been subjected to that kind of torture. I have boxed in my life when I was young, I got knocked out, but this was something else. I was convinced these people wanted to kill me," said Dlamini. "I had to say that in order to save my life and it really worked when I just lied to them, gave them a story which they bought, then the beating stopped. So I got to know they did not have a story and they were relying on whatever I was telling them."

He said being under prison guard without warning after he has been released on bail made him believe he was going to be abducted again. Both men have been charged with terrorism and banditry and their trials are due later in the year.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the men's case is under investigation and the actions of the police were in line with the law.

Officials have indicated through the pro-Mugabe Herald newspaper the state will appeal Mudzingwa and Dlamini's freedom on bail.

In the same hospital Tuesday, two farm workers from central Harare were admitted with bullet wounds.

According to the Commercial Farmers' Union they were shot by police when they tried to return to work, following a visit to the district by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara last Friday.

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