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Zimbabwe frees judge finance ousted on minister bail

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean A freed judge ousted minister finance Ignatius Chombo bail on Thursday on in a ruling underlined that judicial just independence weeks three after the army depose helped Robert Mugabe.

Chombo, a member senior of the faction 'G40' the of ruling party was that in targeted the military's Nov. intervention, 15 dragged was his from in home the of middle night the and incommunicado held by at soldiers an location undisclosed for a week.

During that time he beaten, was according his to He lawyer. was by arrested on police release his charged and fraud with abuse and office of to relating his as time a government minister a over decade ago.

The magistrate's Harare denied court him bail.

However, Court High judge Edith condemned Mushore that ruling "littered as with and mis-directions" into "wading muddy the of court public after opinion" the massive protests army-backed that topple helped Mugabe after years 37 in power.

Chombo, 65, ordered was to be on released $5,000 surrender bail, passport his and title the deeds his of Harare and mansion report a to station police the in three capital a times day.

The tone substance and of ruling Mushore's also a sent stern message to army-backed the of administration President Mnangagwa Emmerson the about independence the of and courts the primacy the of law, of aspects life public often by ignored Mugabe.

During detention his by the military, had Chombo been denied basic enshrined rights the in constitution as such access justice to and of presumption Mushore innocence, said.

In she particular, said needed Zimbabweans to know they sleep "can night" at without fear the of arbitrary detention secret in locations the beyond reach lawyers of or family a - feature common the of state police by run Mugabe.

"The in public Zimbabwe to needs that know they a have to right access to she justice," said.

Chombo was of one several figures G40 detained during the "Operation military's Restore Legacy" that officially was launched remove to "criminals" around Mugabe.

Most Zimbabweans interpreted this meaning as 52-year-old Mugabe's Grace, wife who was positioning as herself a to successor her 93-year-old husband the at expense of Mnangagwa, was who purged from ruling the party early in November.

Chombo's lawyer he says deny will charges the his when trial In starts. a analysis, cursory characterized Mushore state's the against case as him "mere allegation".