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Zimbabwe judge denies bail for activists charged with planning coup

[JURIST] A Zimbabwe magistrate ruled [Herald report] Wednesday that Zimbabwe Peace Project [advocacy materials] leader Jestina Mukoko [advocacy website] and several others would have to remain in jail until their hearings before the Zimbabwe Supreme Court. Mukoko and the other activists were charged last week [JURIST report] with recruiting or attempting to recruit people to undergo military training to overthrow the government of president Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Following accusations of kidnapping and torture, a High Court judge declared the detention of Mukoko and her codefendants unlawful [Zimbabwe Times reports] and ordered that they be taken to a private hospital, but the magistrate held that the state's appeal of that decision prevented their release. The judge also denied bail to five others who have been charged with planting bombs [Zimbabwe Times report] at police stations and on railway tracks. Many of those accused are members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website] party, but MDC has denied any involvement in anti-government actions.

Mukoko played a key role in monitoring and publicizing the wave of violence that hit the country before and after recent presidential elections and the run-off elections [JURIST reports] that followed. Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], have been disputing results of March elections for months. They signed a power-sharing agreement [Harare Tribune text; JURIST report] in September, under which Mugabe would remain president, Tsvangirai would become prime minister, and each would have two deputies. The agreement, however, has been weakened by ongoing violence and alleged human rights violations, with the MDC estimating that nearly 100 of its members have been killed since March, and more than 100 imprisoned [AFP report].

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