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Zimbabwe Court Bail Ruling Undercuts State Case Against Opposition

Following his release this week along with 15 other members of Zimbabwe's political opposition after four months in police detention, parliamentarian Paul Madzore said he would sue the government for unlawful detention and assault.

Madzore was one of the last to be released of around 30 officials and members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai who were arrested in March and held on an assortment of charges including involvement in a series of firebombings and conspiring to overthrow the government.

Bail applications for Madzore and others were repeatedly put off by prosecutors and magistrates, and lawyers for the activists were arrested at one point and charged with obstruction of justice for their efforts to defend their clients. Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi repeatedly intervened in the case seeking to block bail.

Madzore told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he was not only free on bail but was innocent of the all charges he still faces.

The government's case against 17 of the opposition members was dealt a major blow on Tuesday when a high court judge slammed the evidence against them.

In handing down a judgement granting bail to 15 of 17 men of an initial 34 arrested in March, Justice Lawrence Kamocha said the state’s evidence “turned out to be non-existent” and accused police of citing “fictitious persons” as supposed witnesses.

Despite the ruling, lawyer Alec Muchadehama, one of the attorneys representing the opposition activists, told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye that the high court judgement has no bearing on the trial that is set to begin next month.

Former dean Dennis Mandudzo of the University of Zimbabwe law department told reporter Blessing Zulu that the bail decision was both revealing and damning.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...