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Zimbabwe Lawyers Plan Protest After Detention Of Opposition Counsel

Two attorneys for detained members of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change who were themselves arrested late last week were granted bail on Monday, and their fellow lawyers announced they would take to the streets on Tuesday to protest against the harassment of counselors by police.

Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, who were arrested Friday and charged with obstructing justice, were freed on Z$500,000 bail each. Police over the weekend had defied two rulings from the Harare high court ordering them to be freed.

Police ransacked the law partner’s offices on Sunday and Makoni’s wife was briefly briefly detained Monday by police who accused her of hiding bombs, sources said.

Other lawyers seeking to represent Muchadehama and Makoni were denied access to them and threatened by police. The two lawyers were arrested outside the high court late last week after filing bail applications for their clients, 31 members of the MDC faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai held on an assortment of charges.

Police said the two were obstructing justice by altering an affidavit signed by Amos Musekiwa, one of the detained activists. The lawyers in their statement had given the names of alleged state security agents who they accused of carrying out the petrol bombings which authorities have accused opposition members of plotting.

Lawyers for the two have been threatened with assault. State prosecutor Richard Chikosha was allegedly assaulted by assistant commissioner Musarashana Mabunda for giving his support to the high court application for the release of the two.

Lawyer Eric Matinenga, representing the lawyers told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that they will be back in court on Tuesdays to challenge the placing of the two on bail after the high court ordered the charges dismissed.

Meanwhile, the Law Society of Zimbabwe said its members plan to protest the police crackdown on lawyers. Law Society President Beatrice Mtetwa said the independence of the legal profession in Zimbabwe is under direct attack by the police.

The lawyers will petition Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri.

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