A magistrate court in Zimbabwe is expected to rule today whether 68 people who were charged with public violence after clashes between protesters and the police last week should be released from custody while they await trial.
They face a fine and up to 10 years in jail if convicted, Reuters news agency has reported.
Around 100 riot police stood outside the court house in downtown Harare, accompanied by water cannon and armoured cars. Officers blocked relatives of the accused and members of the public from getting in.
Police arrested three people waving banners criticizing 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who is facing rising public anger at the dire state of the economy, in particular shortages of cash and unemployment estimated at over 80 percent.
Defense lawyers will argue that those arrested last week were innocent people caught up in the violence.
Magistrate Tendai Mahwe earlier refused bail for political activist Promise Mkwananzi and another man charged with public violence following a protest by opposition youths on Aug. 24.
Mahwe ruled that Mkwananzi faced serious charges and should not be freed on bail.
His lawyer, Tonderai Bhatasara, said he would appeal the ruling at the High Court.