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Zimbabwe opposition says detainees mistreated
May 27, 2007

Zimbabwe police had mistreated some of the more than 200 opposition party members detained on Saturday, an opposition spokesman said Sunday. Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition movement, said 115 opposition members had been released, leaving about 85 still in government custody.

Chamisa denied a Reuters report citing police who said the detainees were suspects in recent petrol bomb attacks on police stations, shops and government supporters.

"It's propaganda; meant to justify their dictatorial actions," Chamisa said, adding that the detainees had reported being mistreated, including one woman who reportedly was forced to drink 10 liters of water.

"There is always detention without trial; we don't know when they're going to be released; Mugabe is the rule of law," he said, referring to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who has maintained an iron grip on power in his country, long beset by economic problems. His security forces have regularly cracked down on MDC members.

Police did not respond to requests for comment.

Chamisa said the arrests occurred Saturday in the capital city of Harare, where party members had gathered to "just discuss political issues."

Police broke down doors and seized the people, detaining them at the Central Police Station.

The action was reminiscent of the recent detention of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was beaten after his arrest.

Saturday's detentions occurred a day after police extended a ban on rallies and protests in the capital.

Chamisa likened the atmosphere in the capital to a state of emergency and said the detentions show the regime is panicking.

Mugabe's government has accused the MDC of using brutal tactics to oppose the government.

CNN's Luciani Gomes contributed to this report

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