Police in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Friday arrested two human rights lawyers who have been representing members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused of violent activities including the firebombing of police posts.
MDC sources said lawyers Andrew Makoni and Alec Muchadehama were picked up at their offices Friday afternoon by detectives from the law and order section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, a special investigative unit.
Makoni and Muchadehama were representing a group of 31 officials and members of the MDC faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai who have been held since a March 28 police raid on the faction's Harare headquarters. Police said then that they had found evidence incriminating the detainees and have accused some of them of "banditry" and "sabotage," alleging they received military training in South Africa.
State prosecutors have opposed granting bail to the opposition detainees on grounds that they are prone to violence and are likely to abscond if granted their freedom. The accused have denied the charges, while the MDC says the government of President Robert Mugabe wants to paralyze the opposition ahead of 2008 elections.
A high-powered team of human rights lawyers including Lawrence Chibuwe, acting director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Otto Saki and Stanford Moyo were said to be negotiating with police late Friday for the release of the men.
Harrison Nkomo, a lawyer directly representing the two attorneys, said he and his associates were filing an urgent application seeking a high court order to police to let counselors see the arrested lawyers, who were being held incommunicado.