Zimbabwe frees leading rights activist

2013-01-29 17:49

Harare - A Zimbabwe High Court judge on Tuesday freed on bail a leading human rights activist arrested two weeks ago for alleged election fraud.

Okay Machisa, director of Zimbabwe Human Rights (Zimrights), is charged with "scanning voter registration certificates with false names and misrepresenting that these people had been registered as voters."

He was previously denied bail by a magistrates' court on January 16, two days after his arrest.

Machisa will again appear before a magistrate on Wednesday.

Over the years, Zimbabwean police have lead a crackdown on non-governmental organisations seen as critical of President Robert Mugabe's rule.

With the southern African country readying for elections later this year, political tensions are running high and activists increasingly targeted.

Police last month raided the Zimrights offices in central Harare, detaining another official, Leo Chamahwinya, who is facing the same charges as Machisa.

This year's election is set to end a four-year coalition government led by arch-rivals Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.