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Zimbabwe's Roy Bennett, Free on Bail, Blasts Prison Conditions

Zimbabwean deputy agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett was released Thursday from a remand prison in the eastern city of Mutare where he had languished for the past month, and immediately denounced conditions in the lockup as inhumane.

Bennett, a former white commercial farmer and member of parliament for the constituency of Chimanimani, Manicaland province, of which Mutare is the capital, obtained his freedom on bail following a Supreme Court decision rejecting a state appeal of a High Court bail order.

At a news conference at the Mutare headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change party formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Bennett denounced conditions in the remand prison to which he was brought Feb. 13 after being arrested near Harare.

Bennett told reporters prisoners resembled the inmates of concentration camps.

Bennett's detention - and that of others held for allegedly political reasons - has been a troublesome political issue for the unity government headed by Mr. Tsvangirai

Minister of State Gordon Moyo, attached to Tsvangirai's office, told reporter Brenda Moyo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that while Bennett's release was welcome, the deputy minister-designate still faces charges of possessing weapons for purposes of terrorism.

Bennett has denied the charges and the MDC has said they are trumped up.

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