News24

Zambian priest gets bail

2010-03-15 21:16

Lusaka - A Zambian priest arrested last week on suspicion of calling for the removal of President Rupiah Banda's government was released on bail on Monday amid public protest over his detention.

"I understand the charge and plead not guilty," Bwalya said before a packed courtroom in the city of Kitwe, north of the capital Lusaka.

Magistrate Mercy Makubalo set Bwalya's bail at $20 and scheduled his trial for April 13.

Earlier, riot police fired tear gas to disperse protesters burning tyres and logs outside the courthouse where Bwalya, a Roman Catholic priest, faced charges of conduct likely to cause a breach of peace.

Bwalya was arrested on Friday after flashing a red card at youth day celebrations in Kitwe, Zambia's second-largest city.

The cleric recently launched a civil society organisation, Change Zambia, that urges Zambians to flash red cards and honk their horns on Friday afternoons to show their displeasure with Banda's government.

Bwalya enjoys widespread support in Kitwe, a stronghold for the opposition Patriotic Front (PF).