The High Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of Albert Matapo, Nyasha Zivuku, Oncemore Mudzurahona, Emmanuel Marara, Patson Mupfure and Shingirayi Mutemachani who have been in prison since May 2007.
A seventh man, Ra-ngarirai Mazivofa has already been released.
Presiding over the matter, Justice Yunus Omerjee said the six should not have been commuted to custody and a declaratory order would be issued to that effect.
While Matapo is likely to remain in the cells for allegedly attempting to escape from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in April last year, delays in signing their warrants of liberation saw his colleagues extending their stay in prison, much to the frustration of their lawyers.
“The order was granted in the morning on Tuesday and under normal circumstances, the warrants of liberation should have been signed just after that, making it possible for our clients to be released on the same day but the registrar delayed to sign until around 4pm yesterday (Friday),” the accused’s lawyer Charles Warara said.
“They could not be signed on Wednesday because of the holiday and on Thursday, we were told the registrar was not yet ready to sign.
“We were preparing to make an urgent chamber application to force the signing when we were informed that they had been signed but the prison officials had already gone and could not release our clients.”
Warara said he was happy that his clients would finally taste freedom after several attempts to have them released.
The High Court last year dismissed the case citing failure to bring the accused to court for trial within six months as required by law but prosecutors re-indicted them.
It is not yet clear how the state wishes to proceed with the matter although the defence has since said the accused would not be detained.