A Zimbabwe court has ordered the release of opposition member of parliament Giles Mutsekwa on bail of Z$50 million, while ruling that his detention after being arraigned Saturday on charges of conspiring to assassinate the president was illegal.

State-controlled media have reported that authorities seized a cache of arms including an AK-47 assault rifle in a home in Mutare and linked the weapons to a plot to kill President Robert Mugabe during a visit to the eastern border city last month.

Mutsekwa and six other men, including one other official of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, face various charges under the Public Order and Security Act. Mutsekwa remained in custody as the bail could not immediately be raised, but his lawyers said they expected to arrange bail and secure his release Wednesday.

Hearings on bail for five other men, including MDC youth official Knowledge Nyamuka and party member Thando Sibanda, were set be held tomorrow.

However, legal sources said the alleged assassination plot ringleader, Michael Peter Hitschmann, said to have refused legal counsel, would not appear in court then.

MDC Manicaland party treasurer Brian James was released on Monday without charges. But reports said police were still seeking Roy Bennett, a former member of parliament who spent eight months in prison under a sentence imposed by the lower house for pushing the justice minister in a heated debate in May 2004.

Mutare lawyer Chris Ndlovhu, representing Mutsekwa and Nyamuka, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe about Tuesday's court action.

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