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Zimbabwean authorities continue persecution of political activists

The authorities in Zimbabwe have continued their persecution of two officials of the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Gandhi Mudzingwa and Kisimusi Dhlamini have been detained under armed police guard in a Harare hospital since 20 April, despite having been released on bail on 17 April. The two men are receiving medical treatment at the Avenues Clinic in Harare following alleged torture by Zimbabwean security agents. On Monday, their lawyers made an urgent High Court application to remove the armed police guards posted at the hospital. Amnesty International has written to the Zimbabwean authorities calling for the immediately withdrawal of the armed police. "Their presence amounts to unlawful detention of people who have been granted bail by a Zimbabwean court," said Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Program, in a letter to the Commissioner-General of Police in Harare. A High Court judge reserved judgment on the matter to 30 April. Prior to the hearing which took place on 27 April, the State made a court application on 25 April in which it argued that the three accused persons were improperly released and should be sent back to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. The police are reported to be searching for freelance journalist Andrison Manyere, who was released on bail at the same time Gandhi Mudzingwa and Kisimusi Dhlamini. The police have so far failed to locate him. All three men were released on bail by the High Court on 17 April 2009 after the State did not lodge a notice to appeal against the bail order within the prescribed seven days, as required by law. Their lawyers deposited bail with the Magistrate’s Court in Harare.   Following the payment of bail, their lawyers were issued with “warrants of liberation” on the basis of which Gandhi Mudzingwa, Kisimusi Dhlamini and Andrison Manyere were released from custody.