WHEN the treason and murder trial against the four soldiers and two senior political leaders finally kicks off on March 28, all the six accused men will be together in the dock, to stand trial.
Feb. 16, 2023
3 min read
Treason trial against Mochoboroane, Metsing to commence
Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane
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This, after Justice ’Maliepollo Makhetha on Thursday this week ruled that the High Court had assured itself that the Crown indeed has a case against all accused to answer.
The accused soldiers include former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, and Captain Litekanyo Nyakane along with Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa.
They are charged together with the Minister of Health, Selibe Mochoboroane, and the former Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing.
Mochoboroane is also the leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and a partner in the current coalition government led by Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane.
Metsing is also the leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
The two leaders are out on bail.
Handing down the much-awaited judgment this week, Justice Makhetha shot down the bail application filed by Advocate Lepeli Molapo for the release on bail of his client, Ntsane, ordering the man to remain in custody until the trial ends.
She further dismissed the application of separation of trials and annulment of treason and ordered that a joint trial should start within the next six weeks.
Metsing and Mochoboroane’s lawyer King’s Counsel Motiea Teele had applied for the annulment of charges against his clients.
He had told the court that his clients ought to be released as charges against them emanated from a legal military order intended to quell a failed 2014 coup.
Both Kamoli and Nyakane had also applied for the withdrawal of charges against them.
Their co-accused, Ntsane and Motsieloa had applied for separation of trials, arguing that they are being dragged into issues that do not concern them.
They added that they are suffering prejudice as the trial is being delayed because of issues relating to their co-accused.
All the six accused face charges relating to an attempted coup against the government of former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane on August 30, 2014.
The murder charge emanates from the murder of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, which occurred during the night of the attempted coup when soldiers under Kamoli’s command raided police stations in Maseru, including the police headquarters.
The operation, evidence in court shows was intended to disarm police officers loyal to Thabane.
In his submission, Teele told the High Court that the accused soldiers were operating within the perimeters of the law as they were participating in a lawful operation.
Charging them, Teele said, was not only unlawful but was also unfair and a violation of their rights.
Advocate Napo Mafaesa who represents Motsieloa argued that his client had no hand in the attempt to unseat Thabane’s government.
But for his part, Senior Counsel (SC) Shaun Abrahams who prosecutes on behalf of the Crown said all the accused had to answer charges levelled against them.
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In a desperate bid to stop their trial, Metsing and Mochoboroane asked the High Court in November 2021 to order the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane not to include them in the treason and murder charges.
They argued that they could not be joined to an already existing trial.
But the court on November 18, 2021, shot down their application, saying they had a case to answer.
They further threatened that failure to stop their trial would leave them with no other choice but to withdraw their participation in the ongoing multi-sector reforms processes.
The two political leaders have over the past couple of months filed several unsuccessful applications in the High Court meant to stop the DPP from charging them.