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Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 15:54 UK

Zimbabwe activists freed on bail

Justina Mukoko arrives at court in Harare (24/12/2008)
Ms Mukoko has been accused of plotting to overthrow the government

At least 14 Zimbabwean opposition activists have been released on bail a day after they were jailed again.

The imprisonment of the activists, including leading human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko, sparked new tension in the coalition government.

They were initially jailed in December and then freed on bail in March, but were re-arrested on Tuesday.

The activists say they were abducted by state security agents and tortured into confessing to terrorism charges.

'Sanity prevails'

Correspondents says the re-arrest on Tuesday of the 18 leading activists placed extra strain on the unity government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

"Sanity has prevailed and all this harassment must just stop," Ms Mukoko told journalists as she left the Chikurubi maximum security prison on the outskirts of Harare, AFP news agency reports.

Those released, who include several members of Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), face charges of plotting to overthrow President Mugabe.

The whereabouts of at least three of the re-arrested activists is not clear.

Ms Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, was granted medical treatment at a previous court hearing after she said she had been tortured.

Western donors have demanded the unity government demonstrate effective power sharing and that political prisoners be freed before they open their wallets.

Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai formed a government in February after months of wrangling but tensions continue, not least over MDC calls for the posts of central bank governor and attorney-general to be reviewed.



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