Africa

Zimbabwe pastor Evan Mawarire freed

Pastor Evan Mawarire Image copyright AP
Image caption Pastor Evan Mawarire says he wants to reclaim the flag from the government

A court in Zimbabwe capital, Harare, has freed a pastor who had been accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

Supporters of Pastor Evan Mawarire celebrated the news in song and dance.

His lawyers successfully argued that the charge of subversion had been added at the last minute, denying him a fair trial.

The pastor has been at the heart of a social media campaign denouncing the government's management of the economy.

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Mr Mawarire, who started the #ThisFlag movement, was draped in Zimbabwe's national flag in court.

The charge of subversion carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. On Tuesday, he was charged with inciting public violence and disturbing the peace.

Mr Mawarire was represented by dozens of lawyers.

His latest call for a two-day stay away from work to protest at the economic crisis went largely unheeded, with most businesses opening as normal.

However, a similar protest last week left the country's cities deserted after civil servants had gone unpaid.

Salaries were finally paid last week and so most schools, hospitals and offices were open as usual on Wednesday despite the strike call.

However, the country still faces a severe shortage of cash, as well as a severe drought.

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