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Zimbabwe Drops Activist Charges   
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Terrorism charges against a prominent Zimbabwean rights activist have been thrown out after a court ruled she had been tortured while in custody.

The Supreme Court granted Jestina Mukoko a permanent stay of prosecution after she told how security agents took her from her home and beat her. She was accused of plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe.

Critics say the charges were fabricated in an attempt to silence opponents of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku agreed with Ms Mukoko's lawyers that security agents had not upheld her rights.

"The state, through its agents, violated the applicant's constitutional rights... entitling the applicant a permanent stay of criminal prosecution," Mr Chidyausiku said. The AP news agency reported that Ms Mukoko wept and hugged friends as she heard the judgment, saying the charges had not made sense.

"I could not believe people could charge me with something like that," AP quoted her as saying. Ms Mukoko disappeared from her home in early December 2008 and was not heard from for three weeks. The government denied holding her, but at the end of the month she appeared in court facing terrorism charges.

At the end of 2008 dozens of activists claimed they had been abducted by the security services. Many of them were supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Their detention has continued to cause tension between Zanu-PF and the MDC, who are partners in a power-sharing government.

Source: BBC

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