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Zimbabwe Opposition Official Free on Bail


Zimbabwean opposition official Tendai Biti arrives at the magistrates courts in Harare, Thursday Aug. 9, 2018. Biti was deported to Zimbabwe following his arrest in Zambia after his asylum bid was rejected.

A Zimbabwe opposition leader, who had fled the country to seek political asylum in neighboring Zambia, has been freed on bail after being deported back to Zimbabwe. But his lawyers say their client was abducted.

Movement for Democratic Change Alliance senior official Tendai Biti was taken in handcuffs by police Thursday to the Harare Magistrates Court. "[Spirits] are very, very high. We keep on fighting," he told VOA.

Prosecutor Justin Uladi read the charges against Biti and accused the politician of announcing false election results, saying opposition leader Nelson Chamisa had won Zimbabwe's July 30 polls. The state said Biti took part in the violence that rocked Harare during last week's opposition protest and destroyed property worth $345,000.

After the state and the defense finished their statements, Magistrate Francis Mapfumo granted Biti $5,000 bail. He was supposed to surrender his passport. On top of that, Magistrate Mapfumo ordered Biti to report to police twice a day.

Even though her client was granted bail, attorney Beatrice Mtetwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said she would challenge Biti's arrest in court on Friday.

Attorney Beatrice Mtetwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says she will challenge Tendai Biti’s arrest in court on Friday. Harare Magistrate Court, Harare, Aug. 9, 2018. (C. Mavhunga for VOA)
Attorney Beatrice Mtetwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says she will challenge Tendai Biti’s arrest in court on Friday. Harare Magistrate Court, Harare, Aug. 9, 2018. (C. Mavhunga for VOA)

"Because there is a court order from a Lusaka court where he is supposed to have been today if he had not been abducted," she said. "He was not brought here in terms of the country's extradition laws or SADC [Southern African Development Community] protocol on extradition or Zimbabwe's Criminal Mutual Assistance Act. He was not brought in terms of the law. You will hear tomorrow what happens in court."

Biti, who fled to Zambia Wednesday and was deported Thursday, is one of the several senior opposition officials Zimbabwe police say are wanted in connection with election related offenses.

On Friday the opposition is expected to challenge the outcome of Zimbabwe's July 30 general elections, which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said was won by incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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