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Zimbabwe Police Arrest Lawyer, Kwekwe Mayor Charging Obstruction of Justice

Zimbabwean authorities on Friday arrested the lawyer for a parliamentarian of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, along with the mayor of the Midlands town of Kwekwe, on obstruction of justice charges.

Police arrested lawyer Tapera Sengwini and Kwekwe Mayor Shadreck Tobaiwa on charges that they contacted the family of a teen allegedly raped in January by lawmaker Blessing Chebundo in an effort to negotiate an out-of-court settlement in the matter. Chebundo was charged Tuesday in the case and on Friday remained in the hands of the Kwekwe police.

Sengwini told VOA earlier Friday that he expected to be arrested. Sources in the west-central town said the lawyer and the mayor were also being held at the Kwekwe station.

All three men are members of the Tsvangirai MDC formation.

Lawyer Reginald Chidavanyika, who took up Chebundo's defense following the arrest of his colleague, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a magistrate refused to hear arguments for bail on Chebundo's behalf, citing the alleged interference by Sengwini and Tobaiwa.

Elsewhere, parliamentarian Mathias Mlambo of the Chipinge East constituency in eastern Manicaland province, also of the Tsvangirai MDC, was freed on bail pending appeal of his April conviction on charges he obstructed police officers from performing their duty.

Mlambo posted bail of US$200, surrendered his passport and was ordered to maintain his customary residence and to refrain from contacting any state witnesses.

Police arrested Mlambo at the wake of an MDC activist, saying he had prevented them from arresting another person present who they were trying to take into custody.

One of his lawyers, Langton Mhungu, told reporter Sandra Nyaira his team will now wait for a date from the high court to argue against both his conviction and his sentence.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...