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Tsvangirai and MDC supporters freed

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters were freed after no one pitched up to take them into custody. No charges had been formally filed.

Police who had been guarding those still detained in hospital for treatment had also withdrawn overnight.

Amani Trust officials said that while many of the activists suffered serious injuries the prognosis for the 11 still in the hospital was good.

Amani Trust was funding the treatment of the activists with funds from the United States government.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE204, TSVANGIRAI, OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS FREED

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE204

2007-03-14 14:37

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5233

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0204/01 0731437

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 141437Z MAR 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1237

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1509

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1367

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1513

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0189

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0775

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1139

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1568

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3972

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1336

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1996

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1730

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000204

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2017

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI, OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS FREED

 

REF: A. REF A: HARARE 198

 

B. REF B: HARARE 195

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Police late on March 13 released all of the MDC

activists arrested on March 11 (Ref B) without filing

charges. Eleven of the detainees, including Morgan

Tsvangirai, are still being treated at Avenues Hospital.

 

SIPDIS

Separately, witnesses claim that Gift Tandare, the MDC youth

killed at the aborted prayer meeting on March 11, was shot in

the back by the officer-in-charge of Machipisa Police

Station. End Summary.

 

—————–

Detainees Go Free

—————–

 

2. (SBU) Following their court appearance yesterday, all of

the detainees were taken to Avenues Hospital, where they were

examined by doctors. Later in the evening police escorted an

uninjured group back to the magistrates’ courthouse, where

they had hoped to return them to court custody. However, no

one was present to accept custody. Eventually, a senior

police officer arrived and agreed to release the activists

into the custody of their lawyers. He ordered them to return

to the courthouse the next morning, March 14.

 

3. (SBU) The MDC activists appeared at court with their

lawyers on March 14, as ordered. Once more there were no

police or court officials to receive them, and the detainees

returned home. A lead lawyer for the detainees, Beatrice

Mtetwa, told us that the police had not furnished arrest

statements to prosecutors, and therefore prosecutors had not

filed any charges against the MDC and civil society

detainees, who had therefore been released from custody.

Meanwhile, the police guarding the detainees still in the

hospital had withdrawn overnight. Mtetwa said no charges

were filed against these detainees either and they had in

essence been released from custody as well and would return

home when their injuries had healed sufficiently.

 

4. (SBU) Mtetwa said she doubted that prosecutors would

continue to pursue the case if only to avoid further

embarrassment and international attention. However, Mtetwa

noted that charges could be brought later against those

released and they could be ordered to court through the

issuance of a summons or, more likely, the police could look

for less profile ways to harass the MDC leaders.

 

5. (SBU) Amani Trust officials told us the morning of March

14 that while many suffered serious injuries the prognosis

for the 11 activists still in the hospital, including the

semi-conscious young man that the Ambassador saw in court

(Ref A), was good. They told us Tsvangirai might have

sustained a fractured skull and that testing was underway.

 

———————————

Details Emerge in Police Shooting

———————————

 

6. (C) Opposition lawyers told poloff that two witnesses had

come forward to accuse a senior police officer of shooting

Gift Tandare, the MDC youth killed during the aborted prayer

meeting March 11, in cold blood. Contrary to the

 

HARARE 00000204 002 OF 002

 

 

state-controlled media account, Tandare was not part of a

gang attacking police and did not throw a tear gas canister

at police before the shooting. According to these witnesses,

Tandare was among a small group of by-standers when the

driver of a police vehicle that approached fired shoots into

the air to disburse them. As Tandare turned to run away, the

passenger in the vehicle, who has been identified as the

officer-in-charge of Machipisa Police Station, fired two

shots, one of which hit Tandare in the back and killed him.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

7. (C) The brutality of the regime over the weekend was

shocking. Its confusion and incompetence since then has been

astonishing. No one in the security services or the courts

seems to want to take responsibility for the savage beatings

of Tsvangirai and the other opposition leaders. In their

haste to wash their hands, the government’s case, such as it

is, appears to be crumbling. More importantly, instead of

cowing the opposition into submission, the government’s

actions appear to have restored Tsvangirai’s credibility and

reinvigorated the opposition under his leadership. The

government now faces a Hobson’s choice about whether to

intensify the crackdown or to back down. That choice could

come as soon as this weekend when Tsvangirai is likely to

lead funeral services for Tandare.

DELL

 

(20 VIEWS)

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