Zimbabwe: 39 Zimbabwe treason suspects freed

By Nangayi Guyson – Harare – A court in Zimbabwe has  freed 39 of 45 people charged with plotting an Egypt-style uprising against the country’s long time ruler.

The group was arrested on February 19 while attending a lecture and watching television footage of uprisings in North Africa. Police say they were preparing for an anti-government revolt but the group says it was only an academic lecture.

Magistrate Munato Mutevedzi ruled on Monday that former lawmaker Munyaradzi Gwisai and five others will face treason charges later this month. Treason is punishable by death.

Mutevedzi dismissed charges against the other 39 and said police had made “dragnet” arrests. He says prosecutors failed to show they had any intention to overthrow the government.

Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980. Critics accuse him of violently suppressing the opposition and destroying the country’s economy through a land redistribution program.

Though he entered in a power-sharing deal with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the country’s longtime opposition leader, after the violence-plagued 2008 elections, Mugabe has said he has the power to unilaterally call elections this year to end the shaky coalition government.

Security authorities have said they will clamp down on any alleged plotters of “destabilization.”