Court visit

 

Tsvangirai appeared in court on Tuesday, two days after being arrested when police broke an opposition prayer vigil.

"The struggle will continue, we are all continued to show that the freedoms that the people of Zimbabwe desire are to be achieved"

Morgan Tsvangirai, Movement for Democratic Change leader

The opposition leader was visibly injured when he arrived at the courthouse in Harare after allegedly being beaten in detention.

 

Eric Matinenga, Tsvangirai's defence lawyer, said that they should have been freed by the police.

 

"The judge's ruling yesterday clearly stated that if these people are not brought to remand court by 12 pm [1000 GMT], they are automatically released … but they may very well be a different interpretation by the police," he added.

 

 
Tsvangirai
was brought to the hearing on Tuesday in the back of an open police truck with at least 20 other opposition activists.

Visible injuries

Al Jazeera's Mutasa said: "Morgan [Tsvangirai] looked very badly beaten, his face was swollen and he couldn't see out of one eye."
 
"They came in chanting and singing, and saying that the opposition will still carry on, that they would not be deterred."

Tsvangirai called the attack a "terrible attack on defenceless people".

 

Tsvangirai told Al Jazeera, the only international network with a permanent presence in Zimbabwe: "The struggle will continue, we are all continued to show that the freedoms that the people of Zimbabwe desire are to be achieved."

 

Alec Muchadehama, a Tsvangirai lawyer, said the police had refused to abide by the Zimbabwe High Court order to allow lawyers immediate access to their clients.

"They said 'we don't care about the court order, we have our own structures where we take orders from'," he said.
 
Torture allegations

The activists were detained when police broke up a prayer meeting organised by a coalition of opposition, church and civic groups to address Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. One man was killed.
 
Exiled Zimbabweans attended a protest outside
the Zimbabwe embassy in Johannesburg [AFP]
Human rights groups said the MDC leader and some of the others had been tortured in custody.

Thokozani Khupe, deputy leader of the MDC, said on Monday that Tsvangirai had lost consciousness on three occasions during his detention and that his life had been in danger.

Protests were held on Tuesday outside the Zimbabwe consulate in neighbouring South Africa, widely seen as the only country to have real diplomatic leverage over Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president.

"We have gone back to an apartheid-type system [in Zimbabwe], where you are seeing severe repression, severe abuse of human rights," Roy Bennett, a former MDC politician living in exile in South Africa, said during the rally in Johannesburg.

'Enforcing the law'

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The government, however, shows no sign of softening its line.
 
"We are not going to be found wanting. We will enforce the law to its fullest. We expect people to adhere to the law," Kembo Mohadi, the home affairs minister, told the state-run Herald newspaper.

"Police could not just stand by and see the country go on fire, so we deployed and managed to quell the disturbances."

Nathan Shamuyarira, a spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party, said that Tsvangirai had been intent on getting arrested.
   
"I think Tsvangirai wanted to be arrested because he wanted more support from London and Washington," he was quoted as saying by SABC, South Africa's state broadcaster.

Mugabe, 83, who has been in power since 1980, has said he would seek another term as president if asked to by his ruling Zanu-PF party, state media reported on Monday.

Condemnation

Critics say Mugabe has mismanaged Zimbabwe's economy and violated human rights, sending the once-prosperous nation into a crisis marked by inflation at more than 1,700 per cent, unemployment in excess of 80 per cent and chronic shortages of food and fuel.
 

Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, said: "The world community again has been shown that the regime of Mugabe is ruthless and repressive and creates only suffering for the people of Zimbabwe."

 

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary-general, said that such actions conducted by the regime "violate the basic democratic right of citizens to engage in peaceful assembly".

 

David Blair, from the British Daily Telegraph newspaper, told Al Jazeera: "In the end, Mugabe is not one that responds to international pressure … that is the sad reality.

Source: Agencies