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International Trade Union Federation, 19 May 2008

Brussels, 19 May 2008 (ITUC OnLine): Zimbabwean High Court Judge, Justice Ben Hlatshwayo, today granted Z$20 billion bail each to two Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders’ who are facing charges of “inciting the public to rise against the government and communicating falsehoods.” The judge’s decision comes after a Harare Magistrate, Olivia Mariga, had on Monday 12 May 2008 kept ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo and ZCTU General Secretary Wellington Chibebe in detention claiming that they were not suitable for bail.

As part of the conditions for granting bail, Justice Hlatshwayo said the two were being barred to “address any political gathering until this matter is finalized.” They were also ordered to reside at their given home addresses and not to “interfere” with any state witnesses.

“We welcome the decision to grant bail to the two ZCTU leaders, however the decision to forbid them to attend ‘political gatherings’ as a condition of their bail is completely unacceptable,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

The ZCTU leaders were charged with inciting people to rise against the government and falsehoods after they told workers gathered at Dzivaresekwa Stadium on May 1, 2008 that people were being killed during the current wave of political violence in the country.

The two ZCTU leaders were arrested after they presented themselves to the police on Thursday 8 May 2008, where they were initially interrogated for more than six hours before charges were laid against them. They had gone to the police after armed police had visited their residences searching for them.

The leaders were held at Harare Remand Prison. The High Court Judge heard the bail application on Thursday 16 May 2008, but deferred the verdict to today.

The matter will be heard on 23 May 2008 at Harare Magistrate’s Courts.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018.

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