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Tsvangirai Supporters Refused Bail After Attacks

A member of parliament and three young activists all loyal to founding Movement for Democratic Change President Morgan Tsvangirai were refused bail at a court hearing in Harare Wednesday. They are accused of being involved in violent attacks against former MDC colleagues 10 days ago.

Since the formation of the MDC in late 1999, most victims of political violence have claimed they were attacked by members of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Now it is MDC against MDC. The party split in to two factions last October.

Four opposition political activists attacked in a working class suburb southeast of Harare were in court Wednesday, two of them still heavily bandaged.

They claim they were attacked and injured by former colleagues, in the faction of the divided MDC which is loyal to Morgan Tsvangirai.

They said in statements to the police they had known many of those who attacked them from the early days of the MDC. They said when they were attacked they were told they were being punished for being disloyal to Mr. Tsvangirai.

The police brought three young men to court who they say were part of the gang who carried out the attack.

Judge William Bhila refused them bail saying he feared they would abscond.

The most senior of those attacked is MDC member of parliament Trudy Stevenson, the only white woman to be a member of parliament since Zimbabwe's independence 26 years ago.

She had her head split open and her wrist broken during the attack by a gang of between 30 and 40 people.

Her colleague Linos Mushonga has a broken arm. Two others were badly beaten and bruised but their physical injuries have largely healed.

All four are in the other faction of the MDC lead by Arthur Mutambara.

Earlier in the day the judge also refused bail to another MDC legislator, Timothy Mbawu, who is also loyal to Mr. Tsvangirai, and who the state says paid the group to carry out the attack to stop them campaigning in his area.

The state says it has several more men in custody who will all be charged in connection with the same offense.

The united MDC nearly defeated President Robert Mugabe at elections in 2000 just nine months after the party was formed.