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Zimbabwe minister nominee indicted on terrorism and other charges

[JURIST] Zimbabwe Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website] party treasurer general Roy Bennett has been indicted on terrorism and other charges, a lawyer for Bennett said Sunday. Bennett, who was scheduled to be sworn in as deputy agriculture minister in the country's new coalition government [BBC report] last week, is accused of funding the purchase of fire arms and explosives intended to be used as part of an insurgency. The MDC has criticized Bennett's Friday arrest, which they characterized as an abduction [press release], and there has been speculation that it could cause increased friction between the MDC and the African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) [party website] party of President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The two groups entered into a power-sharing agreement [JURIST report] in September of last year in an effort to end violence following the country's hotly contested presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. Bennett had originally faced treason charges, but they were dropped [Times report] in favor of the terrorism and other charges. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Bennett's arrest came shortly after he returned to Zimbabwe [IOL report] for the first time in five years. After being imprisoned in 2004 for participation in an alleged assassination attempt on Mugabe, Bennett sought political asylum in South Africa. In 2006, prosecutors of an alleged coup plot [JURIST report] against Mugabe also sought Bennett for questioning, but is not clear whether the current indictment is for those or separate charges.

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