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Page last updated at 14:51 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 15:51 UK

Zimbabwe rights lawyer arrested

Justina Mukoko arrives at court in Harare (24/12/2008)
Activist Justina Mukoko is among those represented by Mr Muchadehama

A prominent human rights lawyer has been arrested while working at a court in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, rights groups say.

Alec Muchadehama represented a group of political and rights activists who are charged with plotting to overthrow Robert Mugabe.

The authorities did not say why he had been arrested.

The party of PM Morgan Tsvangirai condemned the move, calling it politically motivated and vindictive.

"The arrest has nothing to do with the rule of law, but represents the doomed persistence of those fighting the advent of change which is now upon us," the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said in a statement.

It is the latest in a series of moves which could threaten the stability of Zimbabwe's coalition government, analysts say.

Mr Muchadehama is among a group of lawyers working on behalf of human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko and 17 other activists.

They were initially detained in December, released in March, and re-arrested last week - only to be released on bail one day later.

The activists say that at the time of their initial arrest, they were abducted by state security agents and tortured into confessing to terrorism charges.

Mr Tsvangirai has said that such violations of the power-sharing deal jeopardise promises of aid from Western donors, which are dependent on evidence of political reform.



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