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Rights Groups: Detained Zimbabwe Activists in Danger

Human rights groups in Zimbabwe say several opposition activists detained on terrorism-related charges are in increasingly poor health and have been denied adequate medical treatment. One elderly patient is so ill, rights groups say, his survival is on the line.

Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo of Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said eight of the detainees were in "grave condition."

Medical sources said some of the detainees were taken to a private hospital, but doctors waiting to attend to them were not allowed access to the patients, who were subsequently returned to their cells.

The group, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, says the condition of 11 of 32 detainees could not be ascertained.

Dr. Gwatidzo said there was particular concern for Fidelis Chiramba, a 72-year-old with a heart condition that has worsened.

The detainees are variously charged with terrorism or attempting to recruit people for training people to topple President Robert Mugabe.

Their release was ordered by the High Court but was ignored by police.

On Friday the newly established unity government oversight Joint Operations and Monitoring Committee was scheduled to discuss the case of the detainees, but was then assigned to meet editors from the independent and state media.

This week, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, is due to be sworn in as prime minister in a government of national unity, which will exist for about 18 months during which time the country must write a new constitution and then hold internationally observed elections.