Alexa

Lawyers seek release of Zimbabwean activists

Lawyers seek release of Zimbabwean activists

Lawyers for a jailed Zimbabwean human rights campaigner and 31 other activists sought a High Court order for their release Wednesday, shortly after a magistrate ordered them to stay in custody.
Defense lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said police have defied at least two court orders to free them and ignored a magistrate's ruling that they be allowed visits from private doctors after they appeared in court Monday with swollen and bloodied faces.
The defense team also demanded that the police commissioner and attorney general be summoned to the High Court for contempt. A Dec. 24 ruling said the activists should be transferred to a hospital for investigation of alleged torture.
The High Court bid came just hours after Harare magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe ruled that Zimbabwe Peace Project leader Jestina Mukoko and the activists should remain in custody until Jan. 5. They are accused of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980.
Guvamombe also ordered five officials with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to remain in detention to Jan. 5 on allegations of involvement in two minor bombings at the main Harare police station earlier this year and a small explosion at a bridge outside Harare.
They included a close adviser to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his party's head of security.
Opposition leaders say the detentions are part of Mugabe's clampdown on pro-democracy activists and are further evidence of his determination to keep control of his collapsing nation in defiance of a power-sharing accord with Tsvangirai.
Once a source of regional pride, Zimbabwe is crippled by galloping hyperinflation, acute shortages of supplies and a breakdown in infrastructure like electricity, water supplies and sewage treatment.
The international Red Cross said Wednesday that it has deployed seven emergency response units throughout Zimbabwe to combat the country's worsening cholera crisis, which has killed more than 1,600 people and sickened more than 30,000.
The units _ specialized teams that are fully self-sufficient for one month _ are usually only deployed in the most critical humanitarian situations such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and large earthquakes.
Tammam Aloudat, a Red Cross emergency health officer, said the mobile units would be able to reach rural communities. Currently 43 percent of cholera victims die before they are able to reach a treatment center, even though the disease is easily treatable, he said.


Updated : 2020-12-05 02:57 GMT+08:00