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Group Accused of Terror Wins Appeal To Zimbabwe Supreme Court


Zimbabwe's high court Wednesday handed down a crushing blow to the government's case against a group of Movement for Democratic Change supporters and officials.

Seven people who were accused of terrorism will have their complaints referred to the Supreme Court to decide whether their constitutional rights were violated when they were allegedly abducted and tortured last year.

High court judge Charles Hungwe on Wednesday reprimanded state prosecutors for failing to prepare their case adequately, saying he had no alternative in allowing the seven accused to have their case referred to the Supreme Court.

The seven accused argued that the terrorism charges against them should be dismissed because their constitutional rights were violated when they were abducted from their homes, held incommunicado and tortured into making confessions last year.

The Zimbabwe government claims the seven people - most of them officials or supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change - were involved in plots against President Robert Mugabe.

Their lawyer Alex Muchadahama told the court there was no evidence against any them beyond one confession extracted under torture.

In a related case, a senior official in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party will stand trial in Zimbabwe in October on terrorism charges, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Roy Bennett, the MDC's treasurer-general, was arrested in February, accused of plotting against the Mugabe government. He will go on trial in the eastern city of Mutare, charged with illegal possession of arms for purposes of terrorism and banditry. He denies the charges but faces life in jail if convicted.

Bennett is also deputy agriculture minister designate in the four month old government of national unity but Mugabe says he will not be sworn into office until he is cleared of all charges.

Although defense laywers say the cases against MDC officials and supporters are slowly crumbling, fear persists.

Freelance journalist Andrisen Manyere, who was in court Wednesday, said he has been visited late at night by groups of plain clothes state security agents eight times in the last three weeks.

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