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For Slain Zimbabwean Activist, Burial By Police Out Of Public View

Human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe tried unsuccessfully Monday to serve police with a court order barring them from further interference with the funeral arrangement of an opposition member that the police shot to death on March 11 and whose remains security forces are said to have seized for burial out of the public eye.

Suspected members of the Central Intelligence Organisation are alleged to have taken the body of slain opposition activist Gift Tandare, 41, from the Harare funeral home that was preparing his remains for burial Saturday, then taken the body to his rural village in Mount Darwin district, Mashonaland Central, for a burial on Sunday.

Tandare was shot dead by police a week ago Sunday during protests following the police suppression of a judicially sanction prayer meeting in Highfield, Harare.

A source close to Doves Funeral Home said the state operatives arrived at the parlor in the morning with a man they identified as the slain activist's father, and demanded the body. The source added that the agents, more than 10 in number, said they were acting on orders from President Robert Mugabe, who wanted the burial to take place immediately. The opposition was organization a funeral for Tandare on Monday.

Morticians were still working on Tandare’s body when it was seized, the source said.

Sources close to the situation said the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai had paid some Z$9 million for a casket and for preparation of the remains. After the state agents took control of the body, Mount Darwin South Member of Parliament and Deputy Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere asserted that he provided food, transport and a suit in which to bury Tandare.

Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights tried to take a High Court order to the police barring further interference and to obtain the return of the body. But the commanding officer in Harare is said to have torn up the court order and threatened the "disappearance" of the lawyers attempting to serve him with it.

Lawyer Alec Muchadehama told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he found it sad that the government confiscated Tandare's body instead of initiating an investigation to determine who was responsible for his death.

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