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Last Updated: Friday, 15 September 2006, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Zimbabwe union chief in hospital
Wellington Chibebe (photo: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition)
Wellington Chibebe was being held in a Harare police station
Several of Zimbabwe's main trade union leaders, who were arrested after Wednesday's banned protests, have been transferred from prison to hospital.

Lawyer Alec Muchadehama, representing the unionists, said that 12 people were now in hospital having been badly beaten while in police custody.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said they were aware of the allegations and investigations were underway.

He added that "excessive" attitudes within the force were not condoned.

At least 50 people were arrested on Wednesday while trying to stage demonstrations to protest against the government's handling of Zimbabwe's economic crisis.

The government had said the protests were banned.

Principles

Zimbabwe's main trade union leader, Wellington Chibebe, was one of those arrested.

His lawyer said he was badly beaten by the police.

ZIMBABWE CRISIS
graph
Life expectancy 30 years
High dependency on food aid
20% adult HIV prevalence
Shortages of basic foodstuffs
High unemployment
Inflation 1,000%

"Chibebe has two fractures on the left arm, cuts on his head and bruises on his body," said Mr Muchadehama.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed that Mr Chibebe was in hospital but denied that the police routinely beat protesters.

"As an organisation we don't have a culture of assaulting people in our custody.

"Conduct of police officers can vary from time to time but we have principles that an officer has to follow."

The British government condemned the crackdown, describing it as a further abuse of human rights and has urged the country's government to begin a process of national dialogue and undertake a reform programme based on national consensus.

Zimbabwe's economy has been in sharp decline for more than six years.

President Robert Mugabe blames the problems on a foreign plot to remove him from power.

His critics say his policies have ruined what used to be one of Africa's most developed economies.


SEE ALSO
Is it worth protesting?
13 Sep 06 |  Have Your Say
Country profile: Zimbabwe
13 Jan 06 |  Country profiles

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