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Lawyer wants coup plotters repatriated

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Nat Molomo

MASERU — Justice Minister Mophato Monyake has been requested to repatriate convicted mercenaries who tried to topple former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s government in 2009. Their lawyer, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, has written to Monyake asking him to repatriate them to their respective countries where they will serve the remainder of their sentences. Solomon Mabasa, Antonio Lopez, Rocky Masinga, Francis Mandlate, Mangani Malenge, Angelo Mondlani, George Thomas and Abel Nhantsave were last year each sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after they were convicted on 26 of the 30 charges they were facing.

They pleaded guilty to 26 charges and were acquitted on four counts of murder. They mounted attacks on the Makoanyane barracks and State House and were involved in a shoot-out with the Lesotho security forces, where four of them died near the National Abattoir. They were part of a mission which entered Lesotho on April 22, 2009 with the intention to topple the government of Lesotho. They were sentenced by High Court judge Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo.

Monyake has confirmed receipt of Hoeane’s letter. In a brief letter dated May 2, 2013, Hoeane says he believes that it would be in the interest of justice and also part of rehabilitation to repatriate the inmates. Hoeane told the Sunday Express that the plea of guilty by the insurgents was a sign of remorse on their part, and they also indicated to court through him as their lawyer that they apologised for their deeds, and in addition to the entire Basotho nation. “It also became clear during the court proceedings that they were mere foot soldiers who ended up being involved in this mess,” he said.

According to Hoeane, repatriating them to their own countries of origin would be a way of seasoning justice with mercy.
“It is not in the interest of anyone to leave them to languish in jail at the taxpayers’ expense,” he said, stating that sending them to their own countries would also assist in the process of rehabilitation. Asked what guarantee was there that the convicts would serve their sentences in their own countries, Hoeane said the authorities in their countries would ensure that they serve their sentences where they are with their families.

Thulo said while the arrangement may not be acceptable to everyone especially the opposition Democratic Congress but he said justice must prevail, given the circumstances of the case. He alluded to the remarks made by the trial judge Justice Nomngcongo that the mastermind behind this coup Jessie Ramakatane had not yet faced the music. Makotoko Lerotholi aka Mashai, who was also said to be the key man in the plot, died while waiting to be extradited to Lesotho.

Contacted for comment the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mophato Monyake, confirmed receiving the letter requesting the repatriation of the eight Mozambicans. “But I am still consulting,” the Minister said. He said Lesotho and Mozambique have no extradition treaty, but his colleague Haae Phoofolo had already engaged in discussions with the Mozambique government. He said discussions on the matter could be initiated by Mozambique at government-to-government level.

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