Detained soldier fights for release

Detained soldier fights for release

Staff Reporter

MASERU

An army colonel who has been in detention at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison facing mutiny charges this week asked the High Court to free him.

Colonel Naha Kolisang, who was a senior officer in the army’s legal department before he was arrested in June last year, has also asked that he should not be threatened with death or tortured pending finalisation of his application.

In his affidavit, Kolisang said he is entitled to be under open arrest like some of his co-detainees who challenged their detention and succeeded.

“The rationale behind their success remains relevant for the purpose of this application because the very same reasons that placed me under close arrest were found unreasonable, unjustified and invalid,” he said in the affidavit.

Kolisang said following his arrest “by the most junior officers of the army contrary to law”, he was not taken to a unit commander or to prison for custody but to “Setibing Military Post for torture”.

“A very useful facility which is normally used for training of the army and for other military activities was turned into a torture facility,” he said.

“I was extremely tortured, brutalised, abused, severely assaulted, exposed to harsh and extreme cold weather, drowned in cold water to the point of death, suffocated by tube and plastics, spending nights with no blankets but with wet clothes, tied with shackles on both hands and feet day and night for the rest of the time I spent there and being forced to say things I did not know in order to implicate others,” he said.

Kolisang told the court that he spent “eight days in the torture facility”.

“The medical reports, scars on my body, trauma, cold and numb feet are a testimony to these,” he said.

Kolisang said he was only made to appear in court after his wife applied for habeas corpus in the High Court and “and I got relieved from torture”.

He said the army issued a series of warrants of committal even when the High Court had ruled that it was wrong.

Another warrant was issued after the High Court ordered that they should be released and “in a false attempt to release us and place us under open arrest were released and re-taken back to prison.”

“Another warrant was issued so that they could be detained again.

He said thereafter “a consent order was made to the effect that the LDF should comply with regulation 10 and motivate the grounds for our continued detention”.

He said the consent order was served with documents styled as remand warrants bearing what was called written representations.

“This document is the reason why I remain in custody and therefore the subject matter of this application,” he said, adding that he had “duly complied with the request to represent and submitted my representation”.

“The court will readily observe that each of the said documents have a somewhat generic template which motivated detention under close arrest,” he said.

He said he should be released because it is irregular for the army’s Major General Lineo Poopa to authorise or exercise discretion over his continued detention on “account that I am not under the supervision or accountable to any unit commander as contemplated under the relevant regulations that govern the Lesotho Defence Force”.

“I do not belong to any unit – I am answerable to (the LDF Commander) and his deputy, who are not unit commanders,” he said.

“To this far none of my superiors including (Major General Poopa) have been declared my unit commander for the purpose of the Act,” he said.

He also asked the court to release him from prison because it is being manned by Lieutenant Colonels Phaila and Tefo Hashatsi, who is currently a commander of the Special Forces.

He said that is wrong because the two Lieutenant Colonels are complainants in the case he is facing, according to the charge sheet.

“These two officers and others, who happen to be victims of the so-called mutiny, have actively participated in our arrest,” he said.

“The manner in which I was arrested, ill-treated, abused and tortured shows somewhat an existing anger and the spirit of revenge within my assailers,” he said.

 

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