Mahaos want international judges

Mahaos want international judges

MASERU – THE family of the slain army boss Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao wants international judges to preside over his murder case.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Professor Nqosa Mahao said in the spirit of fair trial the family is appealing to the government to arrange an international panel of judges to hear the case.
The family also wants international judges for “all other serious human rights violation cases perpetrated under or with the connivance of the former government”.

“As is common cause, so many cases of murder, disappearance and torture have been committed in Lesotho in recent years,” Professor Mahao said.
The family has also urged the government to reinstate without delay their son posthumously, by government gazette, back to his position as the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander until his death on June 25, 2015.
The then Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili had stripped Lt. Gen. Mahao of his lieutenant general rank and demoted him to brigadier.
He challenged the demotion in court but died before the case could be heard.
The family also called on the government to “perform military compliments due to a commander at his burial place soonest”.
The Mahaos barred the government and the army from participating in the funeral.
“This was a principled stand for that regime had done everything in the book to humiliate and then kill him in cold blood,” Professor Mahao said.
“In return for our stand, and in an act of revenge the regime sought to punish Lt. General Mahao’s young family by unlawfully withholding his service benefits,” he said.

“We appreciate the fact that the new government has since released the service benefits to his family.”
Mahao said the arrest of Lt. Gen. Mahao’s suspects “clears the way for the implementation of the implications of one of the Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi Commission findings, namely, that his purported demotion and removal as commander had been unlawful”.
“We do not believe that the present suspects arraigned before the courts were the only ones involved in Lt. General Mahao’s well-planned and authorised execution,” the professor said.

“The conduct of the former government before and after the assassination betrays direct state involvement at the highest level,” he said.
The family says it is proper for it to call on the police “to fully and thoroughly investigate all available leads in the crime right up to the top of the former government”.

“Neither shall we relent from putting pressure for the real conspirators of the plot to account,” Professor Mahao said.
He said recent revelations of a spate of murder cases and arrests in which most suspects are soldiers are clear evidence that under the former government “impunity was a licensed instrument of governance”.

He said the former government not only institutionalised a killing machine, but went further to allow it a free hand to torture and kill at liberty in the knowledge that those who carried these inhumane activities enjoyed full protection from the government.
He said the former government “did so in the vain hope that through fear, harassment and murder, they would permanently subvert the constitution of the land and impose a veiled dictatorship on the country and people”.

“We take full cognisance of the fact that it is not only Lt. General Mahao’s family who lost a loved one under the former cruel regime,” Mahao said.
“We are fully aware that, for others in the same situation as us, less progress has been recorded in bringing them some peace,” he said.
“We undertake to continue supporting them in all ways we can, and ask the nation to support them in the manner not different from the support extended to us.”

Staff Reporter

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