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MDC Activists Still in Prison Without Trial, 4 Months On
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
July 13, 2007
17 political detainees
who have been in remand prison since the 26th of March have still
not received a trial date from the state. Most of them are in custody
on charges of receiving insurgency training in South Africa. The
detained, who include Glen View Member of Parliament Paul Madzore,
were arrested shortly after the government embarked on a vicious
campaign against the opposition four months ago. The MDC says these
are trumped up charges and this is nothing more than a ploy to cripple
the opposition ahead of the elections.
Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama
said his clients are being treated like bandits and terrorists.
He said: "There is no evidence to link the accused persons,
this is why they are unable to be tried by the state and the state
is simply forgetting them because they know that they are in custody
and they want them to suffer like that in a sadistic way."
Rights groups and the
opposition have said the political detainees were severely tortured
whilst in police custody. This resulted in one of the accused, an
MDC National Executive Member, Morgan Komichi being hospitalised
in jail. Muchadehama confirmed this saying: "He is still in
hospital prison, and today he was unable to attend the remand proceeding
because he is still unwell." They were further remanded in
custody to 10 August.
Initially, 32 opposition
activists were arrested on terrorist charges. 15 people were released
after police dropped those charges due to lack of evidence. They
had spent more than 60 days in police custody.
17 remain in custody
facing various allegations. They have been put into categories in
terms of how they are going to be charged. Muchadehama said Ishmael
Kauzani is facing allegations of petrol bombing places in and outside
Harare. Komichi and Dennis Murira are facing allegations of recruiting
and training terrorists, bandits and saboteurs. Phillip Katsande,
Shame Wakatama, Phillip Mabika and 11 others, who include MP Paul
Madzore, are facing allegations of having undergone military training
for purposes of terrorism, banditry and insurgency in South Africa.
The MDC activists totally
deny these charges and are challenging the police to prove these
allegations in court. The lawyer said: "And this is what the
police have been failing to do since the time that they unlawfully
arrested these accused persons."
Meanwhile, the defence
team is still waiting for the ruling on a bail application appeal
made to the High Court. Muchadehama said his clients are very anxious.
"They actually ask us what is happening, so we tell them that
we are applying for bail, we are asking for a trial date from the
state, and so on. But, you see, that is not good enough for a person
who is in custody."
Police refuse to comment.
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