Court Martial to resume

Court Martial to resume

Staff Reporter

MASERU

DETAINED soldiers have taken their mutiny case to the Appeal Court Martial a week after their lost their appeal to be released in the Court of Appeal last Friday.

The case will be heard on Monday.

Advocate Christopher Lephuthing, who is representing the soldiers, said the Appeal Court Martial will be constituted by a High Court judge and some army officials.

The soldiers, through their lawyers, had in February asked the court president Major General Mojalefa Letsoela, the Judge Advocate Justice SP Hancke and the rest of the seven-member panel to recuse themselves from the case.

Major General Letsoela dismissed their application.

Lephuthing had told Major General Letsoela that his court was a sham de jure and that it did not have jurisdiction to try the soldiers.

Advocate Koili Ndebele, who is also representing the soldiers, argued that Letsoela’s court did not have either a subjectmatter or personal jurisdiction to try the 23 soldiers.

Ndebele said the charge sheet did not have a prima facie charge of mutiny.

He argued that the soldiers, especially senior ones like Brigadier Tlhoriso Mareka, could not be said to have committed mutiny if they planned to attack or kill their juniors.

Ndebele argued that at the time the army says the soldiers planned the mutiny, the late Maaparankoe Mahao, was the army commander and could therefore not mutiny against himself.

He said Mahao could not be accused of trying to overthrow his juniors or instructing soldiers under him to mutiny against his juniors.

Attorney Tumisang Mosotho argued that it is an insult to suggest that the army commander plotted mutiny or to charge him with mutiny.

He told Major General Letsoela that the prosecution should decline to prosecute the soldiers because there is evidence that the soldiers had been tortured and forced to confess.

Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai said the prosecution’s hands were not clean because of the unlawful manner of the arrests, torture and forcing the arrested soldiers to implicate one another.

Major General Letsoela dismissed their arguments and said he would try the soldiers for the crimes they were charged with. The soldiers then appealed against his ruling.

The soldiers were arrested between May and June last year and were later charged with plotting to kill army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and other senior army officers.

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