Amnesty wants justice for editor

Amnesty wants justice for editor

MASERU – Amnesty International this week called on the government of Lesotho to urgently resolve the case of Lloyd Mutungamiri to demonstrate that it is committed to press freedom.
Mutungamiri, who was the editor of the Lesotho Times newspaper, was shot outside his home in Upper Thamae in July 2016.
The newspaper had carried a controversial story about the then army commander, Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli’s exit package, a story the army said was false and malicious.
The story said Kamoli was to receive a hefty exit package amounting to M40 million.

But two years after he was shot, Mutungamiri is still waiting for justice, Amnesty International said.
The statement said Mutungamiri has not been able to resume work due to the injuries he suffered. He has also had to foot his own medical costs.
Meanwhile, the trial of his five suspected attackers, all army officers, has been postponed several times with no new date set.

The suspects – Brigadier Rapele Mphaki, Colonel Khutlang Mochesane, Mahanyane Phusumane, Nyatso Tšoeunyane and Maribe Nathane – are still in detention.
“The Lesotho government’s delay in bringing Lloyd Mutungamiri’s attackers to justice, through a fair, independent and impartial trial, is an affront to press freedom,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.

Mwananyanda said the trial of the soldiers who are suspected to have tried to kill Mutungamiri should send a clear message that targeting journalists is not tolerated in Lesotho.
Mwananyanda said the suspects were arrested and charged with attempted murder on November 29, 2017.
They appeared in court for the first hearing on December 13, 2017, but the trial has never commenced and has been fraught with delays.

Two weeks ago, the suspects lodged a complaint against Senior Resident Magistrate Phethisi Motanyane. They wanted the magistrate to recuse himself from the case.
Amnesty International said Mutungamiri has never fully recovered after the shooting and he needs medical treatment.
This has left him with excessive medical costs he struggles to cover, especially as he now has no income because he is not able to return to work.

“The fact that Lloyd Mutungamiri’s case is still open, with no clear dates set to resolve it in court, means he is denied the chance for closure. After two long years, Lloyd and his family deserve justice now,” Mwananyanda says.

Majara Molupe

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