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Despite Release of High-Profile Prisoners, Zimbabwe Activists Remain Behind Bars

Although Zimbabwean deputy agriculture minister designate Roy Bennett and Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko among other political and civic activists have been set free in recent weeks, dozens of other activists remain in police hands.

Some 45 members of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are in the hands of authorities in Manicaland province, sources there said.

They include Mutare Deputy Mayor Admire Mukorera, who was detained Saturday, released, and then rearrested early Tuesday morning, MDC sources said, while 26 other MDC activists arrested Monday night in Buhera face charges of committing political violence.

Another 17 activists arrested in Buhera last week on political violence charges were denied bail Monday by a magistrate in Murambinda, Manicaland. The charges stem from fighting between local MDC members and loyalists of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe last week when MDC founder Tsvangirai's wife Susan, killed in a road crash, was buried in Buhera.

In Harare, meanwhile, another group of 18 MDC members are said to remain in police hands although legal sources said they have not been not charged with any crime. Many of them were abducted by security agents last year and later handed over to the police.

MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama said he is not representing anyone in that group, but is defending two MDC members facing charges in connection with an alleged plot to topple Mr. Mugabe's prior government, and a photo-journalist held on similar charges.

MDC Manicaland province spokesman Pishai Muchauraya, who represents Makoni South in the House of Assembly, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Buhera arrests were intended to weaken the local MDC before new elections are held.

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