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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Tsvangirai  Remains in Police Custody - 2003-06-13


Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, will have to wait until Monday to learn whether he will be freed from jail. State prosecutors argued Friday that Mr. Tsvangirai should not be granted bail in case he calls for more anti-government protests.

The opposition leader is going to spend a second weekend in police cells.

High court Judge Susan Mavangira said she needed time to study submissions made by the state and Mr. Tsvangirai's lawyers.

State prosecutor Morgen Nemadire argued for Mr Tsvangirai's continued detention, saying that he had not sought police permission, as required under security legislation, for last week's anti-government marches.

He also argued that treason does not necessarily have to be violent, or revolutionary, and that even contemplating the unlawful removal of a government was treasonable.

Last week, most Zimbabwean workers responded to Mr. Tsvangirai's call to protest against the government by staying away from work. As a result, most commercial activity was paralyzed. There were also supposed to be street protests, but few took place because state security forces prevented them. Many opposition supporters who did try to demonstrate were beaten up and arrested.

The prosecution, in its case against Mr. Tsvangirai, is charging him with treason for allegedly calling for the violent overthrow of President Robert Mugabe through "violent mass action."

Mr. Tsvangirai's lawyer told Judge Mavangira that the state had not produced any evidence to support its allegations. The lawyer, George Bizos, said too much time has been spent dealing with an arrest that was not justified.

Mr. Tsvangirai and two other senior MDC officials are standing trial at the Harare High Court on another charge of treason.

They are accused of plotting to assassinate Mr. Mugabe ahead of last year's presidential elections, charges they deny.