. . . as bail application set for Tuesday
FORMER army commander, Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli, has been remanded in custody to 24 November 2017 as his bail application is set for hearing in the High Court on Tuesday.
Lt-Gen Kamoli and three Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members are charged with murdering Sub-Inspector Ramahloko during the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
The three LDF members are Captain Litekanyo Nyakane (38), Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane (34) and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa (31) and awaiting trial at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison.
The four appeared on Friday before the Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing.
Lt-Gen Kamoli separately faces 14 counts of attempted murder over the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesiah Thabane, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.
During the remand hearing, Senior Crown Counsel Lesaoana Mohale formally introduced King’s Counsel (KC) Haae Phoofolo as the prosecutor in Lt-Gen Kamoli’s murder and attempted murder cases.
Advocate Mohale said Adv Phoofolo KC had been appointed by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Briefing the court on the progress made regarding the investigations, Adv Mohale said police were still waiting for the LDF to hand over firearms allegedly used in the fatal shooting of Sub-Inspector Ramahloko for ballistic examination.
Sub-inspector Ramahloko was killed during a predawn LDF raid on three Maseru police stations which the military claimed was meant to foil a Lesotho Mounted Police Service plan to arm civilians but widely dismissed as an attempt to topple a sitting government.
The raid was conducted soon after Dr Thabane had fired Lt-Gen Kamoli as LDF chief, with the latter refusing to go. Lt-Gen Kamoli was eventually forced to retire in December 2016 in light of international pressure on the previous Pakalitha Mosisili-led government.
Charged on 16 October 2017, Lt-Gen Kamoli applied for bail on 20 October this year. Three days later, the prosecution filed its intention to oppose his application.
The prosecution claims that the former army chief still retains strong support and influence in the military and could team up with his supporters with “devastating consequences” for the country’s security and stability.
The prosecution further states that contrary to Lt-Gen Kamoli’s submission that he had been very cooperative with the police and that he would stand trial to finality, the former army commander was either a “flight risk” — who would use his hefty army retirement payout of more than M4.1 million to flee the country and start a new life elsewhere — or he could use his influence within the military to interfere with witnesses to the case.
The prosecution also asserts that there is evidence that Lt-Gen Kamoli ordered some of his subordinates to “attack and/or threaten” Liabiloe Ramoholi (who is now First Lady Maesiah Thabane) and Mr Tšooana.
The prosecution also seeks to hoist Lt-Gen Kamoli by his own petard by attaching and quoting from a letter he wrote on 5 April 2016 to the lawyers of then detained army captain, Seabata Chaka. In the letter, Lt-Gen Kamoli dismisses a request for Capt Chaka’s release from detention so that he could receive medical attention at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.
Captain Chaka had been advised by his doctor to go for further assessment and management of his ailment which needed an orthopedic surgeon.
However, Lt-Gen Kamoli responded to the letter saying: “As you should be aware, whenever detainees awaiting trial are in need of medical attention that is facilitated as a routine administrative matter. Be that as it may, advise your client to secure more blankets to address the issue of need to keep him warm. He may even buy a freezer-suit so as to avoid the cold.”
“We advise that he heeds his own advice,” the prosecution states in response to Lt-Gen Kamoli’s application to be released to enable him to seek medical attention.
For his part, Lt-Gen Kamoli vehemently denies being involved in the killing of Sub-Inspector Ramahloko who was shot dead at Police headquarters.
He also denies involvement in the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings, and wants Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and Mr Tšooana, among others, to testify on his behalf. Lt-Gen Kamoli also accuses Mr Tšooana of concealing evidence that may “cause him embarrassment and probably even disciplinary or criminal prosecution”.
The former army chief also denies that the army was involved in the bombings.
The opposition of the bail application is likely to result in a lengthy court battle, as witnesses are likely to be summoned to testify in motivation of both the prosecution’s case and that of Lt-Gen Kamoli.
Last Monday, High Court judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa, ruled that the bail application would be heard on Tuesday this week.