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Zimbabwe judge releases jailed activists after ruling police falsified evidence

[JURIST] A Zimbabwean judge has released 13 opposition activists held by the government because police faked evidence against them, defense lawyers said Thursday. All 13 belong to the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change [party website], and had been held since March when the government arrested [JURIST report] at least 100 people - including opposition presidential hopeful Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] - in advance of a prayer meeting in the nation's capital. High Court Judge Lawrence Kamocha released the 13 on Wednesday after ruling that key police evidence, including supposed terrorist training locations and identities of key witnesses, were falsified.

Political tensions have run high in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] recently, especially since President Robert Mugabe [JURIST news archive] announced in December that he planned to extend his presidency from 2008 to 2010 to correspond with parliamentary elections. Also Wednesday, more than 150 members of the activist party National Constitutional Assembly [party website] were arrested [SW Radio Africa report] outside Parliament while rallying for constitutional reform. In February, police imposed a three-month ban [JURIST report] on anti-government protests after a political rally by the Movement for Democratic Change led to confrontations between police and citizen around the country. AP has more.

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