Detained soldiers released

Detained soldiers released

MASERU – THE army yesterday released the last batch of mutiny plot suspects from the Maseru Maximum Security Prison.

Seven soldiers were released yesterday bringing the total of released detainees to 23.
Those who were released yesterday are Brigadier Motoa, Colonel Naha Kolisang, Sergeant Mokhobo, Sergeant Semakale, Corporal Mokhoro, Lance Corporal Molefi and Colonel Stemmere.

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) spokesman Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi told thepost yesterday that these soldiers were released on condition that they abide by the LDF rules and regulations. Ntoi said the soldiers have also been instructed to report to the LDF premises every time they are ordered to do so.
“I do not know other conditions given to them,” Ntoi said.

“Those soldiers have been put on open arrest,” he said. He said the soldiers were not only accused of mutiny but also with a plot to kill some other members of the army.
Other soldiers were released last year and earlier this year for various reasons such as good conduct and having obtained High Court orders.
In military legal terms, the soldiers have been put on open arrest, which is similar to an out of custody remand in civilian courts.

The soldiers were arrested between April and June in 2015 on suspicion that they had plotted with the late Maaparankoe Mahao, who had been appointed army boss by former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, to mutiny against Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.

Mahao was removed from his position as army boss by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. As the army began cracking down on the alleged mutineers, three opposition party leaders, All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s Thabane, Thesele ’Maseribane of the Basotho National Party (BNP) and Keketso Rantšo of the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) fled the country to South Africa claiming their lives were in danger.

Earlier, some of Thabane’s bodyguards had fled the country after skirmishes with a group of soldiers near the Royal Palace. The soldiers are still holed up in South Africa. About 20 other soldiers fled to South Africa and did not return when other exiles returned last month.
The army has been claiming that the mastermind behind the alleged mutiny was Mahao, who at the time was suing the Mosisili-led government for demoting him and replacing him with Kamoli.

Mahao was later killed near his home village of Mokema by soldiers in what the army said was an operation to arrest him.
All the 23 suspected mutineers are currently awaiting a decision of the Court Martial Appeal Court on their challenge of the legality of their trial by the Court Martial.

Majara Molupe

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