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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
'Jail hell' over for Zimbabwe MP
Roy Bennett after his release
Roy Bennett lost 30kg in prison
Former Zimbabwean opposition MP Roy Bennett has described conditions in jail as worse than he could have ever imagined, following his early release.

"I feel very sad for those that are left behind... because I should imagine if one gets to hell, that is what you experience," he told a news conference.

He was freed after serving eight months of a one-year jail sentence for assaulting a minister in parliament.

While in jail, he was prevented from standing in elections in March.

Mr Bennett, once a stocky coffee farmer, lost 30 kg during his time in Mutoko prison, 140 km north-east of Harare.

He told reporters he had been made to stand naked in front of prison guards and was then given a prison uniform covered with human excrement when he arrived in jail.

He said he now planned to campaign for the human rights of Zimbabweans after spending some time with his family and holding talks with the MDC leadership.

"This was worse than anything I've heard of, or could have thought, to experience people being beaten on a daily basis, to hear their screams, to see people hardly clothed," he said.

'Inhumane'

Bennett's sentence was decided by the Zimbabwean parliament, which has the authority to impose prison sentences on MPs.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Bennett's ancestors were thieves and murderers

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa had called Mr Bennett's forefathers "thieves and murderers" and said he deserved to lose his farm after benefiting from a British colonial system that robbed blacks of their land.

"I pushed him... and for that I have spent eight months in jail under the most inhumane conditions. If that is justice, then so be it, but I certainly don't feel I deserved the sentence that I got," Mr Bennett said.

He was one of only three white Zimbabwean MPs in the last parliament and is one of the Movement for Democratic Change's most prominent members.

Mr Bennett's farm was confiscated by the government as part of its controversial land reform scheme.




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