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Harare Magistrate Authorizes Extended Detention Of Opposition Officials

A Harare magistrate denied bail Monday to nine officials of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change held since last week when police raided their homes and party offices, allegedly beaten and tortured while in police custody, and taken by police late Sunday from a hospital in the capital over the protests of physicians.

The magistrate denied bail applications filed by lawyers for the MDC officials, telling police they could be held until April 16 pending an investigation into the charges they organized firebombings of police posts and other targets. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the nine are being held in connection with recent bombings.

Both MDC factions have stated that they had nothing to do with the bombings, which seriously injured two police officers last month, and do not condone violence.

The nine opposition officials were sent to Harare's Avenues Clinic on Saturday after two collapsed in court. Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said that the nine men were taken from wards at the private clinic without having been discharged by the hospital.

Clinic officials said they have been threatened by the Central Intelligence Organization not to talk about the alleged hospital abductions.

Lawyer Muchadehama told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he was disappointed by the magistrate’s ruling and would appeal to the Harare high court Tuesday to have the nine opposition officials released on bail.

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