Kamoli wants prosecutor out

Kamoli wants prosecutor out

MASERU – LIEUTENANT General Tlali Kamoli’s lawyers have accused the prosecution of cooking up evidence to get him convicted.
Lt Gen Kamoli and eight other soldiers, on trial for the murder of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015, now want the prosecutors to recuse themselves or be kicked off the case.

In a High Court application filed on Monday, the soldiers say the prosecution is so hell-bent on getting them convicted that they have doctored evidence against them.
They are seeking an order to get South African Advocate Shaun Abrahams, hired by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute them, to either recuse himself or be removed from the case.

They also want the same for Advocate ’Naki Nku, a local prosecutor assisting Advocate Abrahams.
They claim that how Advocate Abrahams has conducted the trial shows that he is biased and is only interested in getting them convicted instead of finding the truth.

They accuse him and the investigating officers of fabricating evidence. The suspects also say he threatened to influence state institutions and the High Court against Colonel Thato Phaila, who is a crown witness, if he doesn’t cooperate to change his testimony.
They also say he must recuse himself for “putting contradictory documents and leading of witnesses in respect of documents that are forged…”

The soldiers also claim that Advocate Abrahams’ bias is shown in the many contradictory statements made by two state witnesses.
Their application is based on statements made by Colonel Phaila when he testified last week.
Colonel Phaila told the court that Advocate Abrahams and Advocate Nku told him to testify to a changed statement, not the things that he had personal knowledge about.

In a testimony that turned the tables on the prosecution, Colonel Phaila appeared to exonerate Lt Gen Kamoli. He told the court that Lt Gen Kamoli was not there when the operation to arrest Lt Gen Mahao was ordered.
Colonel Phaila testified that during their consultation Advocate Abrahams made it clear that he had influence on the government, politicians, courts, churches, army, the police and the secret service.

He claimed that Advocate Abrahams showed him a promotion letter of Colonel Tumo Lekhooa and told him that if he cooperated he would persuade the government to immediately release his terminal benefits. He said he was baffled how the crown counsel knew he had not been paid his terminal benefits.
In an affidavit, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, who is among the accused, told the court that Advocate Abrahams showed his bias when he declared that the prosecution would seek the death penalty.

“I have been advised that the timing of this statement was not only reckless, irresponsible and outright irregular by (Advocate Abrahams), it clearly showed that he was prepared to influence the court and would do anything to secure our conviction,” Sergeant Moepi said.
“This approach, when weighed with the evidence of (Col Phaila), during cross-examination but in particular during re-examination, leaves us in no doubt that (Advocates Abraham and Nku) are conducting this trial with a view to ensuring that we are convicted at all costs.”

“They are not conducting the trial dispassionately and impartially, but are clearly partisan and desirous that (we) be convicted notwithstanding lack of evidence suggesting commission of a criminal offence.”
Sergeant Moepi said Col Phaila’s written statements in court contradicted because Advocate Abraham tampered with his evidence to suit his desired ends.
He said as Advocate Abraham influenced Col Phaila to cooperate with him in changing the evidence, he told him that he was aware that parliament was about to pass a Peace and Reconciliation Bill and “this was how he was going to circumvent this”.

Col Phaila also testified that Advocate Abraham told him that “the deceased’s brother” (brother to Lt Gen Mahao), would go to the media to fight the Bill.
Col Phaila said Advocate Abrahams told him that while Lt Gen Mahao’s brother will be fighting the Bill, he will be prosecuting the case.
Sergeant Moepi said this indicates that Advocate Abraham “has a special interest in the matter and is biased against us”.
“I have been advised that the right to fair trial entails not only (that) the court must be independent and impartial, but prosecutors, who are discharging a public function on behalf of the whole citizenry, must prosecute impartially, objectively, fairly and without prejudice or bias,” he said.

“A prosecutor such as (Advocates Abraham and Nku) should act not in a partisan manner eager to secure a conviction but as an officer of the court interested in ensuring that the court arrives at a fair and just decision after he ensures that the truth is exposed.”
He said prosecutors play an important role in ensuring that the courts establish the truth in criminal cases.

’Malimpho Majoro

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