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Activist accused of targeting Mugabe

Jestina Mukoko was among those charged with plotting to overthrow Zimbabwe's president.

was sent to a hospital amid allegations of torture.
was sent to a hospital amid allegations of torture.Read moreJestina Mukoko

HARARE, Zimbabwe - A Zimbabwean human-rights activist missing for three weeks was taken to court yesterday, and state media said she was accused in a plot to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

Late in the day, a judge ordered Jestina Mukoko and six other activists sent to a hospital under police guard so that allegations of torture could be investigated, a human-rights lawyer said.

The lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said the seven would be brought to court again Monday.

The Herald, the state-run daily, said Mukoko and the other activists with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change would be charged with attempting to recruit fighters to overthrow Mugabe. The Herald quoted police as saying the MDC was training fighters in Botswana.

Both the MDC and Botswana have denied any such plot.

Mukoko, the respected head of a group known as the Zimbabwe Peace Project, was taken from her home Dec. 3, the day activists held nationwide protests against the country's deepening economic and health crises, and scores of others have disappeared in recent weeks.

South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, who has been critical of Mugabe's rule, again joined the growing international pressure on the longtime leader to give up power.

Asked during a British Broadcasting Corp. interview if Mugabe should be removed by force, Tutu, the retired archbishop of Cape Town, said there should "certainly be the threat of it."

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki mediated a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, and South Africa reiterated this week the deal is the only way forward, despite U.S. and British opposition to it.

The agreement has stalled over a dispute about who would control key Cabinet posts - and over charges Mugabe has stepped up harassment of dissidents.