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Zimbabwe Activists, Formerly Abducted, Back In Court On Coup Allegations

Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko and about 20 activists of the Movement for Democratic Change including a mother and two-year-old infant appeared in magistrate’s court in Harare on Monday to challenge their continued detention on charges they conspired to overthrow the government - this after their abduction and reappearance in police hands.

All those who appeared in court Monday have been produced by police in recent days, weeks or even months after they were abducted by suspected state security agents.

Sources present at the hearing said Mukoko and the MDC activists were brought to court in leg irons and handcuffs.

Last week the High Court ordered the activists to be released to a hospital for medical care, but police have refused to comply with the order. The state is appealing the order in the supreme court, generally considered more sympathetic to the administration.

Lawyer and National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, in court on Monday, said the government of President Robert Mugabe is in effect holding the detainees hostage to pressure the MDC formation of Morgan Tsvangirai to enter a unity government.

Political analyst Bekithemba Mhlanga concurred, saying the prosecution of Mukoko and other activists has made them bargaining chips in the power-sharing negotiations.

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