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Zimbabwe rights activists suing government for unlawful arrest, torture

[JURIST] Prominent Zimbabwean rights activist Jestina Mukoko [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] and eight others have sued the government for abduction, wrongful arrest, and torture, their lawyer said Thursday. The suit comes after Zimbabwe's Supreme Court on Monday dismissed charges [JURIST report] of conspiring against President Robert Mugabe [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], an allegation that Mukoko has vehemently denied. Mukoko's lawyer said she and the other individuals were suing [BBC report] the police commissioner, a cabinet minister, and other police officers, alleging that they had been subjected to simulated drowning, locked in a freezer, and repeatedly beaten. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) [advocacy website] director Irene Petras has called for the resignation [press release] of Attorney General Johannes Tomana. Tomana has dismissed the call [AP report], saying his police officers behaved lawfully and appropriately.

In May, Mukoko was released on bail, one day after a court forced her back into custody after ruling she had been improperly released [JURIST reports] in March. Mukoko was held without charges from December through March. 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 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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