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Martial hits a brick wall

Tefo Tefo

THE Court Martial of three army officers on mutiny charges in relation to the 5 September 2017 assassination of army commander Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo failed to kick off on Friday after the defence lawyers objected to the swearing-in of Brigadier Khomo Mohobo as Judge Advocate of the court.

The case was postponed to Wednesday.

The prosecutor, Captain Leholi Motikoe, requested the postponement of Court Martial to give the prosecution time to prepare its response to the defence lawyers’ objection of Brigadier Mohobo on the basis that he was likely to be biased as he was one of the speakers at the memorial service for late Lt-Gen Motšomotšo which was held shortly before his burial.

The other six senior army officers were sworn in on Friday to constitute a Court Martial for the trial of three army officers facing mutiny charges in relation to the assassination of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo.

The six are the Court Martial’s president, Brigadier Mabote Phillip Sekoboto, Lieutenant Colonel ‘Mammohi Mofelehetsi, Lt-Col Motseki Kanetsi, Major Sera Lekoatsa, Major Tseko Nthakong and Major Madondolo Rakhoro.

They will preside over the mutiny case against three army officers – Major Pitso Ramoepane, Captain Boiketsiso Fonane and Captain Litekanyo Nyakane.

Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was shot dead by his subordinates – Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi at his Ratjomose Barracks office in Maseru.

Both Sechele and Hashatsi were shot killed on the same day during a shoot-out with the late commander’s bodyguards.

It had been anticipated that proceedings would commence on Friday after swearing-in of the Court Martial on Friday but this was not to be as the defence lawyers objected to the swearing in of Brigadier Mohobo.

The Court Martial was sworn in in Maseru near the Maseru Central prison.

The defence lawyers are King’s Counsel Karabo Mohau, Motiea Teele and Advocate Letuka Molati.

Raising the objection, Advocate Mohau, said Brig Mohobo was not fit to preside over the case because he was likely to be biased when advising the president of the court.

Advocate Mohau said the objection arose from the fact that Brig Mohobo addressed a memorial for the late Lt-Gen Motšomotšo in September.

In the aftermath of the objection the prosecutor, Captain Motikoe, requested the postponement of the case to give the prosecution to prepare its response.

A ruling will also be made on whether or not Captain Motikoe should also recuse himself after the defence also objected to his participation in the proceedings.

The defence lawyers argued that Captain Motikoe could not be prosecutor because he has already made a statement in relation to the same case before the Court Martial. The defence said as a result of his statement, it was possible that he could become a witness in the case in which he was supposed to prosecute.

In addition to the Court Martial, Major Ramoepane and Captain Fonane are also facing charges in the High Court of murdering Lt-Gen Motšomotšo.

Major Ramoepane faces a further 14 counts of attempted murder alongside the former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, in relation to the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesiah Thabane, one ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane, and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.

Captain Nyakane is also charged in the High Court with the murder of Police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko at Police Headquarters on 30 August, 2014 during an attempted coup by the army.

Major Ramoepane, Captain Fonane and Captain Nyakane are currently in custody at Maseru Maximum Security Prison after being remanded by the Magistrate’s Court.

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