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Zimbabwe court orders bail for rights activist Mukoko

[JURIST] A court in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday released on bail 15 human rights activists, including activist and journalist Jestina Mukoko [advocacy website, JURIST news archive], who had been ordered back into custody [JURIST report] Tuesday. Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) [advocacy website]. The indicted activists were accused of planning a coup against President Robert Mugabe [JURIST news archive], but were released on bail [JURIST report] in March after three months of detention by presidential authorization. However, the court in Harare found Tuesday 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. The activists were released [AFP report] Wednesday after the judge reversed her Tuesday ruling on the orders of Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai [official website]. Three other activists ordered into custody Tuesday were denied bail [AP report].

The indictment highlights the tension between Mugabe and Tsvangirai as well as 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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