Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was in intensive care with a broken skull on Wednesday following what he says was a brutal police attack while in custody, his spokesman said.
“He has just had a brain scan because his skull is cracked,” spokesman William Bango told Reuters from Tsvangirai’s Harare hospital, adding that the opposition leader had also needed blood transfusions.
“He will be here for some time. He is in the intensive care unit,” Mr Bango said.
Doctors at the Harare Avenues Clinic have not issued any reports on his health and nursing staff say they do not discuss the condition of individual patients.
Zimbabwe prosecutors had earlier failed to appear for an expected court appearance by Tsvangirai and dozens of others arrested on Sunday for defying a ban on protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government.
“The prosecutors are not here, so we are going and they may have to proceed by way of summons,” one of Tsvangirai’s lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, told reporters outside the court.
Senior prosecutor Joseph Jagada said police had to complete paperwork before the case could proceed.
Lawyers earlier said Tsvangirai, who heads the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had been released from police custody but remained in hospital along with 30 other opposition figures allegedly beaten after their arrest on Sunday.
Another 19 accused were freed and went home, lawyers said.
Tsvangirai was taken to hospital with a deep head wound on Tuesday soon after arriving at court. His condition and that of other opposition supporters fuelled world outrage over the crackdown on political protests by Mugabe’s government.
The United States condemned the police action as “ruthless and repressive” and even South Africa, which normally avoids direct comment on Zimbabwe’s woes, called on Mugabe’s government to respect the rule of law.
Sunday’s arrests, which occurred as Tsvangirai and other opposition supporters attempted to attend a prayer vigil, came as Zimbabwe faced a deepening economic crisis with inflation at more than 1,700 percent, unemployment of 80 percent and frequent shortages of food, fuel and foreign exchange.
Muchadehama said earlier the court case could proceed even if Tsvangirai and the other accused remained in hospital, noting a legal provision allowing lawyers to represent their client or court officials to visit an accused in hospital.
“Those who cannot make it to court might be remanded from their hospital beds,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s state media has not covered accusations that Tsvangirai and his colleagues were assaulted in custody, but has blamed the opposition for a wave of violence.
On Wednesday, the official Herald newspaper reported that some MDC supporters had gone on an “orgy of violence”, barricading roads, destroying property and stoning vehicles in a Harare township on Tuesday. (Reuters)