Zimbabwe opposition leader's fate unknown

June 14, 2008 at 7:37 AM

HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 14 (UPI) -- The whereabouts of arrested Zimbabwean opposition leader Tendai Biti were unknown Saturday as police failed to produce him for a court appearance in Harare.

CNN reported that a journalist present in the Harare courtroom where Biti was scheduled to make an initial appearance on treason charges said national police agents failed to produce the Movement for Democratic Change party leader, arguing they couldn't authenticate the order from the Zimbabwe High Court demanding his presence.

When Biti didn't show, the High Court issued another order to the government of President Robert Mugabe demanding Biti be brought before it, CNN said.

The MDC secretary-general was arrested Thursday upon his return to Zimbabwe from South Africa on charges that a document published by the party before the March 29 first-round presidential election constituted treason. An MDC official told the BBC the document was a phony produced by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Meanwhile, 40 prominent African figures, including the former leaders of Ghana, Nigeria and Mozambique, signed an open letter calling for violence in the run-up to the June 27 runoff election widely considered to be orchestrated by Mugabe to cease, The Times of London reported Saturday.

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