18 held for plot to overthrow Mugabe

HARARE: Eighteen leading activists, including human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko, were detained today on charges of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, their lawyer said.

Mukoko and the others appeared in court and were formally indicted on terrorism charges and immediately taken into custody.

“They’ve all been remanded in custody, 18 of them,” lawyer Alec Muchadehama told AFP.

The activists had been released on bail only two months ago after being arrested and held in secret last year on various charges stemming from an alleged plot against Mugabe.

The group appeared in court early today for a scheduled remand hearing. The activists will go to trial in three separate cases, with Mukoko’s set to begin June 4.

Mukoko is the head of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which documented human rights abuses surrounding last year’s controversial elections.

She was taken from her home on December 3 by more than 10 armed men who claimed to be cops, according to fellow activists, and was not seen again until she appeared in court three weeks later.

She later told a court that authorities had beaten her on the soles of her feet during interrogations and she flatly denied charges that she had recruited militants to topple the government.