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CNN: Jailed Zimbabwe activists caught in legal battle

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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) — Zimbabwean police are in contempt of court for failing to follow a judge’s order to release jailed members of the opposition, attorneys for the activists said.

Police, however, maintain the 32 people who oppose President Robert Mugabe will remain in custody pending the outcome of a government appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We have been advised by the attorney general’s office that they have noted an appeal against the High Court order issued on Wednesday,” police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told the state-owned Herald newspaper in a story Saturday. “We are holding them in custody until the appeal is heard.”

High Court Judge Yunus Omarjee on Wednesday ordered the unconditional release of 23 opposition members — including a 2-year-old boy. The judge ordered that the other nine, including activist Jestina Mukoko, be freed and sent for medical treatment, because of allegations they were tortured while in custody.

Irene Petras, one of the lawyers representing the opposition members, dismissed Bvudzijena’s remarks.

“We still maintain that the police [are in] contempt of court,” she told CNN. “I saw the purported appeal and it is defective for a number of reasons, including that it has not yet been filed with the Supreme Court. It was only served to the High Court. The police [are] trying to mislead everyone about [it].”

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