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Arrested For Songs, Zimbabwe Opposition Activists Plead To Nuisance Charge

The Manicaland provincial branch of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai said police arrested eight of its members Thursday in eastern Mutare for allegedly singing songs denouncing President Robert Mugabe.

When arrested the eight were riding in a truck returning from a remand hearing in a magistrate’s court in connection with charges they had demonstrated in March without police permission. Seven of the detained activists were released after paying fines of Z$40,000 (US$0.25) apiece having admitted to the offense of criminal nuisance.

The eighth, provincial youth secretary Lloyd Mahute, was said to have been assaulted by police and as of late Thursday was still being held in an unknown location.

Spokesman Pishayi Muchauraya of the Tsvangirai MDC faction's Manicaland branch told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe there has been a rise in arrests of opposition members, which he blamed on police partisanship.

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