Tsvangirai has 'cracked skull'

Zimbabwe opposition leader formally released from custody after alleged beating.

    Morgan Tsvangirai, left, was arrested with scores of other opposition activists on Sunday [AFP]

    "I don't know how long I'll be inside [the hospital]. It depends on the medical people," he added. 

    Case 'not ready'

    Lawyers attended court in Harare on Wednesday to hear the case against the opposition leader and 49 other activists were detained on Sunday but proceedings were delayed when prosecutors failed to turn up.
     
    "The prosecutors have not come to court and we cannot keep waiting," Alec Muchadehama, a lawyer, said.

    "They can proceed by way of summons. Everyone is free to go home."

    Beatrice Mtetwa, another lawyer, said the state attorney general's office was not yet ready for the case against Tsvangirai.


    "When we asked the AG's [attorney general's] office, the AG's office said it did not request us to be here," she said.


    Tsvangirai was taken to hospital in Harare after appearing in court on Tuesday, two days after being arrested when police broke up an opposition prayer vigil.

    'Terrible attack'

     

    The opposition leader's injuries were visible as he arrived at the courthouse.

     

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    He called Sunday's crackdown on the meeting arranged by a coalition of opposition, church and civic groups a "terrible attack on defenceless people".

    Mtetwa said the police forced Tsvangirai and many of the others to lay face down and then beat them repeatedly with truncheons both at the scene of the arrests and at police stations.

    One opposition activist, identified as Gift Tandare, was killed as police crushed the rally. Two mourners were slightly injured during skirmishes with police at his funeral on Tuesday, witnesses said.
     
     

    Tsvangirai told Al Jazeera, the only international news network with a permanent presence in Zimbabwe, as he left court on Tuesday: "The struggle continues, we are all determined to ensure that the freedoms the people of Zimababwe desire are achieved."

     

    'Orgy of violence'


    Zimbabwe's state media has not covered the claims that Tsvangirai and his colleagues were assaulted in custody, but has been running stories accusing the opposition of violence in the capital.
     

    On Wednesday, the official Herald newspaper reported that some MDC supporters had gone on an "orgy of violence", barricading roads, destroying property and stoning vehicles in a Harare township on Tuesday.
       
    "Sources said the violence was part of a broader campaign by the youths to cause chaos in the suburb," the newspaper said. Police had quelled the violence and restored peace in the area, it added.

    Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the information minister, said opposition activists had attacked police and were to blame for the latest violence, according to state radio.


    The authorities suspected an "underground movement" of opponents was planning a violent campaign against the government, he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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