Zimbabwe opposition leader freed on bail from 'filthy' cell

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The Independent Online

Waving to supporters, Zimbabwe's opposition leader was freed on bail yesterday after two weeks in jail on treason charges.

Morgan Tsvangirai left a Harare prison once four cardboard boxes stuffed with Z$10m (£7,400)bail money were delivered to court. He also had to hand over property deeds or rights to other assets worth Z$100m.

Opposition officials said Mr Tsvangirai had been held in a filthy, overcrowded cell. Paul Themba Nyathi, a Movement for Democratic Change spokesman, said: "His incarceration has only served to strengthen the people's resolve to intensify peaceful efforts to tackle the crisis of legitimacy in Zimbabwe."

Judge Susan Mavangira said he would be violating conditions of his release if he advocated the removal of Robert Mugabe and his government by "violent or other unlawful means". The new round of treason allegations stems from a week of anti- government strikes and protests earlier this month.

State prosecutors said Mr Tsvangirai called on supporters to oust President Mugabe during the protests and had incited them to violence. Denying the allegations, he said he called for peaceful protests to push Mr Mugabe, 79, to the negotiating table. He is due back in court on 10 July to face the new treason charges.

Mr Tsvangirai and two senior party officials are already on trial on treason charges for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mr Mugabe two years ago. The three men say they were framed. Treason carries a possible death penalty.