Two soldiers deny killing Chinese doctor

Two soldiers deny killing Chinese doctor

MASERU-TWO soldiers who are also university students at Roma have denied any role in the killing of a Chinese doctor last month.
The crown says Dr Chen Tianshen was murdered by three soldiers and a woman civilian in his office.

Defence counsel Advocate Lebohang Ramakhula said his clients, Privates Mahlomola Lebaka and Moeketsi Moletsane, were not present when Dr Tianshen was killed.

He also said he now wants the murder charge changed to culpable homicide.
Advocate Ramakhula told thepost yesterday that the investigating officer, Lance Sergeant Mphanya, had given the crown new evidence.
He said the new evidence was that Dr Chen was not shot but could have been suffocated by a cotton wool that was stuffed into his mouth before he was hit with the butt of a gun, killing him.

Moletsane is out on bail while two soldiers and a woman suspect are still in custody.
Advocate Ramakhula said the two soldiers are claiming that they were in Roma when the murder happened and were only called later by their co-accused, Moeketsi Matlere, who told them that he had killed a Chinese national.

In their bail petition, the two said they are students at the NUL and so there was no way they could escape or not attend trials or remands.
They told High Court judge Justice Sakoane Sakoane that on September 15, when Private Lebaka knocked off from work, he called Private Moletsane telling him that he was bored so he should visit him.

Since he was not busy Private Moletsane allowed Private Lebaka to pay him a visit.
They said while still having their drinks, they were called by Moeketsi Matlere who is also their colleague in the army telling them that he had just shot a Chinese national.

Matlere allegedly said he would give them all the details when they met.
“We then decided to take a drive to him at Mafeteng to hear what actually happened, and indeed he told us what happened,” they said in their application.
However, on September 27 the two soldiers were arrested and taken to court the following day.

Privates Moletsane and Lebaka informed the court that they were never involved in the crime.
They said the police had told Matlere to implicate them or he would be tortured.

They said Matlere had told them that he would be turned into an accomplice witness if he implicated them.
They pleaded with the court to be released on bail so that they could attend classes at university.
“If we are not released on bail, our future will be jeopardised. We are presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court of law,” they said.
Advocate Ramakhula argued in court that the date of hearing had not yet been set, meaning they would be detained indefinitely until investigations were over.

He said it is a known fact their case will not be heard any time soon or within a reasonable time as stipulated by the constitution.
He said like every other citizen, they have a right to bail.
He said they will abide by the bail conditions, surrender their passports and report to Mafeteng police station once a month.

However, Justice Sakoane said the suspects are not just citizens but law enforcement agents who understand better when crimes are committed.
He said even though their lawyer had indicated they have been cooperative with the police, “they wouldn’t have said a word to anyone about the crime committed by their friend if they were not wanted by the police”.

“They knew or had an intention to commit a crime if when their friend called them informing them that he had killed a person ,they just went there without informing their superiors,” Justice Sakoane said.
He said had the police not gone to the army base looking for them ,they would not have reported it but kept it to themselves.
The case continues today.

Itumeleng Khoete

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