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Vigil at Zimbabwe cop station after deputy agri-minister arrest

By Adriana Stuijt     Feb 16, 2009 in Politics
A vigil group is surrounding the Mutare police station in Zimbabwe where the country's newly-appointed deputy agriculture minister Roy Bennett is held since his shock arrest on Friday. Bennett was arrested just when Morgan Tshvangirai was sworn in.
The Friday swearing-in ceremony was delayed because the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tshvangirai, was waiting for Mr Bennett to show up. However Bennett was trying to flee the country with a private airplane to South Africa when he was arrested on the runway and dragged out of the plane Friday.
see our previous story here
Bennett not brought to court Monday
A press release from Bennett's party, the MDC, said Monday that Mr Bennett was not brought to court at the appointed time to hear alleged charges of 'planning terrorism and insurgency', which police said he was being charged with.
There is growing dismay among Zimbabweans holding the vigil at the police station, with many now saying that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should not have agreed to an 'inclusive government' with Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party by being sworn in on Friday.
The English-speaking white farmer - whose farm was confiscated by Mugabe's party - was arrested at the Charles Prince Airport in Harare on Friday at around the same time when Tshvangirai and Mugabe were waiting to be sworn in as a co-ruling cabinet.
Bennett was seen being dragged from a small private plane which he had hired to flee back to South Africa on Friday after he'd been warned of his imminent arrest,
Police at the Mutare police station where he's being held since then, claimed on Monday they 'could not bring Bennett to court as planned, because 'they had been called to Harare on urgent business.' The crowd surrounding the police station is adamant that they will maintain their peaceful vigil to make sure that Bennett isn't smuggled out.
The MDC has slammed Bennett 's arrest, saying he was the victim of a political power-game and was arrested on 'trumped up charges, politically motivated by Mugabe's Zanu PF party.
The MDC said in its media statement that Bennett's arrest "was failing to show sincerity to the Global Political Agreement and the formation of an inclusive government last week.'
They point out that the identical charges Bennett has now again been arrested for by Mugabe's military security officials, also were also levelled against him in 2006 - but the case was then thrown out at the courts due to lack of evidence.[url=http://www.mdc.co.zw/pressbody.asp?pressid=66t=_blank]http://www.mdc.co.zw/pressbody.asp?pressid=66t=_blank]see
Meanwhile a large vigil group has developed since Friday's arrest around the Mutare police station where he is being held. They have now already spent two nights surrounding the police station in a determined vigil - fearing that Bennett may be spirited away to a 'place of interrogation'.
They will maintain this vigil, especially because strong rumours circulating that there had been plans to have Bennett killed and "thrown into the Chivero river'.
More about Vigil, Mutare, Roy bennett, Agriculture minister, Mugabe
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