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40 Still Detained in Zimbabwe For Protests During World Cup Cricket Match - 2003-03-03

In Zimbabwe, police are still holding at least 40 people who were arrested after an anti-government protest at a World Cup cricket match Friday between Zimbabwe and the Netherlands. Lawyers representing the detainees say they expect they will remain in police custody in the city of Bulawayo until the last match is played in Zimbabwe Tuesday.

Bulawayo lawyer Perpetua Dube, representing the detainees, said the police had not given her a list of those they were holding.

Ms. Dube said one girl had been released. She said the rest should have appeared in court early Monday, under laws governing detention.

She said she was preparing documents for an urgent application to the High Court in Bulawayo to try and get the group charged or released.

She said they were being held in inhuman conditions in prison.

The wife of one of those being held, who asked not to be identified, said most of the arrests took place after the game ended in the car park outside the cricket pavilion.

She said scores of people escaped, but some were dragged from their vehicles, and others were detained at their homes later on Friday night.

She said that she and a large group of people were singing protest songs, and waving anti-government banners smuggled into the cricket ground.

The woman said there were about 12 women among those detained. She said conditions in cells were bad, and that no food had been offered to the detainees.

She said one of those arrested who had been at the cricket Friday was detained at his home early Monday, and was a youth leader from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The police have refused to comment on the arrests, or to say when the detainees will appear in court.

Zimbabwe's involvement as a co-host for the World Cup Cricket tournament ends Tuesday, and all further matches will be played in South Africa.

When legendary batsman Andy Flower plays against Pakistan Tuesday, it will be his last game on home turf, as he leaves the country permanently next month.

He and teammate Henry Olonga outraged the government and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union by making statements critical of the government, and wearing black armbands at a World Cup Cricket match last month.

They were asked by the World Cup governing body to stop wearing black armbands. They say they are continuing their human rights protest by wearing white bands on their forearms instead.