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Abducted Zimbabwean Rights Monitor Mukoko Sighted In Police Custody

The brother and lawyer of abducted Zimbabwean human rights activist Jestina Mukoko voiced relief late Tuesday after Mukoko, seized Dec. 3 by suspected members of the state security apparatus, was seen alive in the custody of police who searched her family home.

Attorney Otto Saki of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who has been investigating Mukoko's disappearance and seeking to determine her whereabouts for nearly three weeks, said she was likely to appear in court on Wednesday.

Her brother, Cosmas Mukoko, told VOA that his sister was brought to the family house on Monday under police guard and that family members were told the police wanted to search for subversive documents linking her to a plot to topple President Robert Mugabe.

Saki said Mukoko was known to be in police custody, but her lawyers had no access to her.

Mukoko was abducted in the small hours of Wednesday, Dec. 3, from her home in Norton, 50 kilometers west of Harare, by suspected Central Intelligence Organization agents. Her organization compiled records of political violence and human rights abuses.

Human rights lawyers said about 11 Movement for Democratic Change activists have also been turned over to regular police by those who abducted them.

Intelligence sources said most of the prisoners were held at Matapi Police Station in Mbare, a high-density Harare suburb. But police spokesman Andrew Phiri professed ignorance at the latest developments, saying authorities still regarded the activists as missing.

The reappearance of Mukoko and the other detainees follows the issuance of an ultimatum by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week saying that if some 42 abductees were not freed and if kidnappings did not stop, he would as the governing national council of his party to end participation in power-sharing negotiations under an accord signed Sept. 15.

That agreement was viewed as a way to end the political violence that followed local, general and presidential elections held March 29 which set the stage for a controversial presidential run-off election June 27 in which Mr. Mugabe claimed victory without opposition.

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