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Zimrights Director Out on Bail

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS)
A Harare High Court judge Tuesday granted bail to Okay Machisa, director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) who is charged with fraudulently registering voters.

High Court Judge Felistas Chatukuta overturned Magistrate Tendai Mahwe's denial of bail two weeks ago. Judge Chatukuta said Judge Mahwe should not have denied bail to the human rights activist on evidence not placed before the court.

In denying Machisa bail a fortnight ago, Mahwe said his release would cause a “public outcry in the country.”

Machisa , human rights activist and chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, was ordered by the court to deposit $500 as a bail bond and to continue to reside at his given address. He was also ordered to report to the police weekly and not to interfere with witnesses.

Machisa’s attorney, Beatrice Mtetwa, told VOA’s Studio 7 that the judge added other conditions, as well.

The judge said Machisa should surrender immovable property valued at not less than $50,000.

Machisa’s deputy at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Grace Chirenje, said she was happy that the court had freed Machisa, but complained that the conditions were very stringent.

Machisa was arrested on January 14 when he surrendered himself to the police. The human righst activist says he turned himself in after learning through the court hearing of fellow Zimrights employee and co-defendant, Leo Chamahwinya, that police were seeking him.

Machisa is denying the voter fraud charges.