Zimbabwe court frees 39 accused of Egypt-style revolt
Mar 7, 2011, 18:19 GMT
Harare - A Zimbabwe court on Monday freed 39 of 45 suspects who were held for 17 days after police raided a meeting where people were discussing the mass uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and watching footage of the demonstrations.
Magistrate Munato Mutevedzi ordered that six accused would remain in detention on charges of treason - which carries the maximum sentence of death - while they waited for their next court hearing in two weeks.
The magistrate said the 39 people freed had been taken into custody on February 19. Lawyers said those arrested included passers- by and people working in offices in the building where the six remaining accused - students, lawyers and trade unionists - were watching BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN news clips of the protests in the Arab world.
Prosecutors have said the group meant to organize and implement the removal of the constitutional government of Zimbabwe in a manner similar to the uprising in Egypt, which eventually toppled president Hosny Mubarak.
The accused were tortured in custody, their lawyers said, including being lashed on the soles of their feet with broomsticks by secret police interrogators attempting to force them to admit they were plotting President Robert Mugabe's overthrow by mass demonstrations.
Mugabe, 87, has been in power for 31 year, presiding over a country that descended into economic chaos and hyper-inflation, and widespread intimidation, brutality and killings after the presidential election of 2008.
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