5 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Bail Ruling for the MDC-T 26 Postponed Indefinitely

Twenty-six MDC-T activists charged with the murder of a police officer, look set to spend another festive season behind bars after the presiding judge postponed the bail ruling indefinitely.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, who heard the arguments in chambers on Wednesday, said he needed time to assess the submissions and would call for another special session to make his ruling.

The 26 have already spent more than a year in remand prison, and their lawyers had hoped to get them out on bail last Friday before the high court closed ahead of the Christmas recess.

Their lawyer, Beatrice Mutetwa, had argued that the 26 were perfect candidates for bail since there was no clear-cut evidence linking them to the crime and also given that their co-accused, Solomon Madzore, Cynthia Manjoro, and Lovemore Taruvinga Magaya, had been bailed on similar grounds.

However, prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba opposed the application, arguing that the accused were a flight risk.

Charges against the activists relate to the death of Inspector Petros Mutedza, who was murdered at a night club in Glen View last May. Since then, the group has had numerous bail applications turned down. All the 26 deny the charges, and the MDC-T has accused the state of harassing its supporters through "trumped-up" charges and called for their immediate release.

In a statement released on Wednesday, MDC-T Youth Assembly spokesman, Clifford Hlatshwayo, said: "It remains our position that the innocent 26 are unlawfully detained and deserve their absolute freedom so that they can be with us, their beloved family and friends especially during this festive season."

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