The No.2 official with Zimbabwe's main opposition party has been granted bail after being detained for treason, his lawyer said Thursday.
Lawyer Lewis Uriri said in addition to bail set at 1 trillion Zimbabwean dollars, or about $100, Tendai Biti was required to surrender his passport and the title to his home and report to police twice a week. Uriri said Biti paid his bail shortly after Thursday's hearing, and was awaiting the completion of paperwork required for his release.
Biti has been jailed since he flew back to Zimbabwe from South Africa June 12. The secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change has been charged with treason, which carries the death penalty. He also has been charged with publishing false statements and insulting the president, along with another charge related to interfering with the military.
"It is good news if he is released," said Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa. "We want to see him get back to his normal life and contributing to the democratic struggle."
Chamisa said Biti's release did not indicate President Robert Mugabe's government was softening toward the opposition. Scores of opposition activists, including high-ranking party members, have been attacked or killed in recent weeks.
"There wasn't a case from the start. It (Biti's arrest and detention) was unlawful," Chamisa said.
Biti's bail was granted on the eve of a presidential runoff that world leaders have dismissed as a sham. Tsvangirai, who had been the only candidate facing Mugabe, announced Sunday he was withdrawing because state-sponsored violence made it impossible to run. Electoral officials say the election will go ahead with Tsvangirai's name on the ballot.