Blow for mutiny suspects

Blow for mutiny suspects

MASERU – AN attempt by Major Pitso Ramoepane to block the Court Martial from prosecuting him for mutiny hit a brick wall yesterday after the High Court dismissed his application.
High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi yesterday ruled that the Court Martial should proceed to prosecute Major Ramoepane and his co-accused.
Major Ramoepane and two others are facing a charge of mutiny in connection with the controversial killing of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) boss, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo, in September 2017.

The prosecution told the Court Martial Judge Advocate Justice Mathanzima Maqutu that Major Ramoepane participated in the mutiny and conspiracy to assassinate the general.
While the case was continuing in the Court Martial, Major Ramoepane rushed to the High Court to ask Justice Monaphathi to stay the prosecution.
He argued that he was already facing Lt Gen Motšomotšo’s murder case in the High Court and therefore his defence in the Court Martial would touch on the defence in the High Court.
He said it would be unfair to him.

In his ruling, Justice Monaphathi said the point raised by Major Ramoepane about the jurisdiction of the Court Martial would be meaningful if it was raised before the High Court judge at a later stage of the case and not this time.
The judge ruled that the Court Martial should proceed.
“The Court Martial can still proceed,” Justice Monaphathi said.
“This means that the murder charge and the Court Martial case can co-exist without prejudices,” he said.
He said he accepted that the proceedings before the court martial case could not to be reviewed and set aside.
Major Ramoepane was charged together with Captain Litekanyo Nyakane and Captain Boiketsiso Fonane for mutiny which resulted in the death of Lt Gen Motšomotšo almost two years ago.

Major Ramoepane was said to have been part of a meeting that was called to plan for the mutiny at the home of the late Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.
Colonel Hashatsi and Brigadier Bulane Sechele died in a fight with soldiers at the army headquarters after they allegedly assassinated Lt Gen Motšomotšo.
Different witnesses testified against Major Ramoepane in the Court Martial saying he could have known about the mutiny that was to happen as they had a meeting with the late Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi.
Justice Maqutu said according to the evidence given before court Major Ramoepane knew that Brigadier Sechele and

Colonel Hashatsi were to confront the commander as they had a meeting in the boardroom before.
“The witness said he saw Ramoepane entering the command block in a hurry indicating that he was going to meet Sechele and Hashatsi who were to confront the commander”, the judge said.
“The fact that the lawyer representing Ramoepane, Advocate Karabo Mohau, denied that his client went to the command block to meet Sechele and Hashatsi leads to the fact that they had a meeting before,” he said.
“And as a result, he went out of the command block knowing that a confrontation was going to happen, unless Ramoepane can clarify what really happened.”
The dates of the proceedings of the Court Martial are not yet set.

Itumeleng Khoete

 

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