Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Harare - A Zimbabwean court on Tuesday freed activist pastor Evan Mawarire, a critic of President Robert Mugabe, following his weekend arrest on new charges of attempting to subvert the government.

It was the second time he has been detained for a similar offence.

Mawarire went on trial on Monday on separate subversion charges stemming from protests last year against Mugabe's handling of the economy.

The magistrates court said the rights of Mawarire, who appeared in khaki prison uniform, had been violated after police failed to bring him to court within 48 hours following his arrest on Sunday morning, as stipulated by the law.

Mawarire had earlier attended trial at the High Court but the judge postponed the case to Thursday.

The 40-year-old pastor faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted, and even if acquitted could soon be on trial again.

He is due to face yet another trial at a later date on charges of promoting violence after he addressed protesting university students in June.