Maseru, Mar. 09 — A case in which two politicians and some army members are among others charged with treason has been set down to May 29-June 15 2023 for hearing.
The dates were selected following a pre-trial conference in which the prosecution informed the court that they have 91 witnesses lined up for the matter.
Lead Prosecutor in the matter Advocate Shaun Abrahams stated that they do not intend to call each and everyone of the 91 witnesses. He indicated that they have provided all evidence they intend to rely on.
He added that they discovered copies of dockets, responded to requests for further particularity further adding that they have also provided a list of witnesses that they intend to call.
The defence pointed out that they will not be admitting any statements adding that the prosecution insists on the 91 witnesses without clarifying how they are going to conduct the trial.
The pre-trial conference and setting down for hearing of the trial come after dismissal of two applications which were instituted by the accused in the matter in which they requested for quashing of charges and separation of trials.
A judge presiding over the matter, Justice Maliepollo Maketha dismissed the applications indicating that the accused in their application for quashing of the charges have not successfully discharged the onus that the charges are meant to prejudice and embarrass them in their defence.
She stated that the grounds relied upon by the prosecution prima facie establish a common purpose by the accused. She said the prosecution has drawn reasonable inferences of the extent of the accused persons’ respective participation in the alleged charges, as contained in the indictment.
The judge added that the prosecution has provided the defence with evidence reasonably required in the preparation of their defence. She emphasised that the accused are informed of their case, therefore can prepare.
In relation to the application for separation of trials, the judge concluded that it is not desirable to separate the charges in the matter. She pointed out that it is not in the interest of the administration of justice to separately charge persons accused of common purpose.
The Minister of Health, also a leader of Movement for Economic Change (MEC) Selibe Mochoboroane, Former Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing, Former Army Commander Tlali Kamoli and army member Litekanyo Nyakane had applied for the charges against them, comprising mainly of treason and others, to be quashed.
They argued that the charges are calculated to prejudice and embarrass them in their defence. They added that the prosecution has not provided them with particulars so that they are properly informed and able to prepare for their case.
They further argued that an operation conducted by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) on August 29-30 2014, targeting police stations was lawful adding that it was done under the lawful command of Kamoli as he was the lawful Army Commander at that time.
The prosecution insisted that the operation was unlawful and contrary to the LDF Act.
Other accused in the matter, Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa, who are not charged with treason, had applied for separation of trials. They argued that they suffer prejudice when they sit in court and listen to charges against their co-accused adding that they stand to incur unnecessary costs.
The prosecution argued that the accused are charged together with the others to avoid prejudice for all parties involved, repetition of evidence and duplication of trials.
The accused in the matter are also facing further charges that include murder, attempted murder, risk to injury or death and aggravated assault. The charges have already been read to the accused and they are yet to plead.