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Zimbabwe court orders activist Mukoko back to prison

[JURIST] A court in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] on Tuesday ordered back into custody 18 human rights activists, including activist and journalist Jestina Mukoko [advocacy website, JURIST news archive] and freelance journalist Andrison Manyere. Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) [advocacy website], and Manyere is a former aid to Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai [official website]. The indicted activists were accused of planning a coup against President Robert Mugabe [JURIST news archive], but were released on bail [JURIST report] after three months of detention by presidential authorization. However, the court in Harare found that under the Zimbabwe Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [text PDF], the grant of bail is automatically reversed and the activists must remain in custody until their trial in June. Attorneys representing the accused argue the courts disregarded the previous bail agreement, and will petition the High Court for bail [Zimbabwe Times report].

The indictment highlights the tension between Mugabe and Tsvangirai and the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. Mukoko was held without charges from December through March and was allegedly subjected to torture. Mukoko was hospitalized [Zimbabwe Times report] for the treatment of injuries sustained during her detention and remained under medical care after her release from police custody. While in prison, it was reported that Mukoko was forced to ingest poison [JURIST report], an allegation that has sparked a world-wide protest against Zimbabwean police methods. During her detention, Mukoko was denied bail [JURIST report] by Zimbabwean lower courts, but another court ruled that Mukoko could appeal her detention [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe under the Zimbabwe Constitution [text, PDF].

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