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Zimbabwe court denies release of human rights activists

[JURIST] A Zimbabwe judge ruled Friday that Zimbabwe Peace Project [advocacy materials] leader Jestina Mukoko [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] and 31 other activists charged [JURIST report] with plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] must remain in jail over the weekend. High Court Judge Alphias Chitakunye denied a motion [AP report] for the activists' immediate release, and held that they must remain in custody until they appear in Magistrate Court on Monday. Opponents of Mugabe claim that the ruling is part of Mugabe's alleged recent crackdown against the pro-democracy movement in Zimbabwe. The ruling follows lower court rulings [JURIST report] denying bail for the advocacy leader and the other activists pending their appearance before the Zimbabwe Supreme Court.

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 [JURIST report] in September, under which Mugabe would remain president, Tsvangirai would become prime minister, and each would have two deputies. The agreement 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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