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Zimbabwe court frees PM`s aide

Last Updated: Sunday, June 26, 2011 - 21:25

Harare: A high court judge Sunday freed a key aide to Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, two days after he was arrested for calling veteran President Robert Mugabe a liar.

Jameson Timba, a cabinet minister from Tsvangirai`s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was arrested at his office on Friday and has been police custody since.

"There was a violation of his rights," high court judge Joseph Musakwa said.

"He was not informed of the charges he was facing. Assurances by the AG (attorney general`s office) that he will be taken to court tomorrow does not cure that were there are breaches of his rights. Therefore, there is no justification for his continued detention."

Timba, the minister of state in the prime minister`s office, arrived in court in the morning accompanied by police but wearing his own clothes.

After his release, he told reporters that he had been denied food during his incarceration.

"I have not eaten something since they picked me up. There is no other problem except for the cold and the lice."

Zimbabwe prison cells are widely infected with lice, and prisoners rarely receive blankets unless relatives can bring them one.

The hearing was held Sunday after Timba`s lawyers won an order late Saturday compelling police to bring him to court to justify his continued detention.

The arrest came in the wake of protests from Mugabe loyalists who last week called for Tsvangirai to be arrested for undermining the office of the president.

A top army officer and close Mugabe ally accused the prime minister of being a national security threat and a lackey of Western powers.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe share power in a tense coalition government formed in the wake of a violent, failed election in 2008.

Mugabe, 87, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, June 26, 2011 - 21:25
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