MURDER-ACCUSED former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Tlali Kamoli has reiterated his displeasure over the High Court’s decision to bring in foreign judges to preside over his trial.
Lt-Gen Tlali stands accused of murder in connection with the killing of Police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko at the Police Headquarters in Maseru during the attempted coup of 30 August 2014.
Lt-Gen Kamoli is charged alongside Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa.
The former army chief is facing 14 counts of attempted murder in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.
In this case Lt-Gen Kamoli is charged alongside Major Pitso Ramoepane, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeant Heqoa Malefane and Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko.
A fortnight ago, Lt-Gen Kamoli told the High Court that he did not want foreign judges to preside over his case, saying local judges were more than competent to handle the trial.
And on Friday, Lt-Gen Kamoli reiterated his displeasure over the recruitment of foreign judges when he and his co-accused Litekanyo Nyakane, Pitso Ramoepana, Mohlalefi Seitlheko, Malefane Heqoa briefly appeared before the Judge on Duty, Justice Semapo Peete.
Lt-Gen Kamoli asked Justice Peete why their cases could not be heard by local judges just like any other case of murder or attempted murder.
“We are accused of murder and attempted murder and ‘other cases of this nature’ as the prosecution puts it. Are these cases any different from other cases of murder and attempted murder that they would need to be presided over by foreign judges other than local judges,” Mr Kamoli asked.
Mr Kamoli also demanded that prosecution explains what it meant by saying that they were accused of ‘other cases of this nature’, saying that “murder is murder, attempted murder is attempted murder”.
Justice Peete replied by saying that the decision to invite foreign judges was done to ensure that Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused would be given fair trial.
“The decision to seek foreign judges was taken to ensure impartial adjudication. In Lesotho we have very close relations. Everybody knows everybody else. I know you and you know me. Not unless you can say you do not know me,” Justice Peete said.
Justice Peete further said that he had been informed by the acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase that preparations for the appointment of the foreign judges to preside over the Kamoli and other cases were at an advanced stage.
“I consulted the acting Chief Justice and she put it on record that she was informing me as a Duty Judge that the process of appointing the foreign judges is at an advanced stage,” Justice Peete said.
Justice Peete however said that no specific or individual judges have been named to preside the case, adding that at a later stage the nominated judges will have to go through the process of confirmation by the Judicial Service Commission.
“As we know, section 12 of the constitution solemnly states that every person is entitled to fair trial before an impartial tribunal and within a reasonable time. It is quite clear that peculiar circumstances of this case require adjudication by judges other than those of the High Court. It is a unique case that cannot be done in a day,” Justice Peete said.
One of the suspects, Mr Nyakane asked Justice Peete what was meant by the statement that every person was entitled to fair trial with a reasonable time given that their case has been postponed on numerous occasions.
In reply, Justice Peete said that theirs was a high-profile case and it would be impossible to put in quantifiable terms what reasonable time meant with regards to the case.
“The 21 counts (of murder and attempted murder) are quite serious and many. This is a high-profile case and reasonable time here is a nebulous (vague) concept.
“However, the only stumbling block now is the appointment of the foreign judges. When that is done, the trial will continue without any postponement unless the judge or the defendant gets ill,” Justice Peete said.
The case was postponed to the 23rd of November this year.