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Two Gay Rights Workers Released On Bail

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Harare, May 27, 2010 - A Harare Magistrate on Thursday freed two Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) employees, who were arrested last week for allegedly undermining President Robert Mugabe’s authority and possessing pornographic material.

Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi ordered the two GALZ employees Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Mhambi to pay US$200 in bail money and to report twice a week to Harare Central Police Station.

The two were also ordered to surrender their passports with the clerk of court and not to travel for more than 40 kilometres outside Harare without the authority of the investigating officer.

Chademana and Mhambi were arrested last Friday and charged with being in possession of obscene, indecent  or prohibited articles in breach of Section 26 (1) (b) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act chapter 10:04. On Monday 24 May 2010 the police also charged the two with contravening Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly undermining the authority of President.

On Wednesday when they first appeared in court the two employees complained that they were tortured during their detention in police cells and asked for an investigation into the alleged torture.

Mhambi alleged that police used empty soft drinks bottles to assault him on his knees and forced him to “sit” in a position without a chair or any other tool for a long period. Chademana said the police also forced her to undertake the same action for a long period.

The Zimbabwe NGO forum said Chademana and Muhambi who were detained for seven days, were 'severely' assaulted by state security agents after their arrests and were threatened with further beatings.

"It is also a matter of public record that, that same evening , our two colleagues,  left at the mercy of the police, were severely assaulted by state agents in a manner which clearly amounts to torture and cruel , inhuman and degrading punishment," said Abel Chikomo, a representative of the Zimbabwe NGO forum.

On Wednesday police also raided the home of Galz director Chesterfield Samba.

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