MASERU — Cameraman Habofanoe Ntsie’s defence in a murder trial suffered a hammer-blow on Thursday after the High Court ruled that his recorded tapes were not admissible as evidence.
Ntsie is facing two charges of murder.
His defence team had earlier this year applied to present transcripts of a conversation between their client and a police investigating officer, Superintendent Sello Mosili.
The lawyers argued the tapes clearly showed there was a plot by the police to kill Ntsie.
The trial-within-a-trial on whether the court should admit the tapes as evidence was brought before High Court Judge ’Maseforo Mahase this year.
In her ruling on Thursday, Justice Mahase threw out the defence’s argument to have the tapes admitted as evidence.
“This court has come to the conclusion that the recording and conversation are hereby rejected as evidence,” Justice Mahase ruled.
“This court has not been persuaded that there was conspiracy to kill the accused.”
Ntsie is being charged with the murder of Souru Masupha and Habaka Mahao on November 30 2004 at Lancer’s Gap in Thuathe in Berea district.
Ntsie has however argued that there was a plot by the police to kill him in connection with the case.
He told the court earlier this year that a conversation — which he taped — that he held with Mosili proved there was such a plot against him.
But asked during cross-examination if he remembered the conversation he had with Ntsie, Mosili denied that such a conversation ever took place.
The High Court then ordered a trial-within-a-trial to determine the admissibility of the recorded tapes.
Ntsie claims Mosili said there was a conspiracy by the police to kill him because he was investigating the death of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s son, Maile.
Maile was killed in Maseru in 2002 and his killers were never found.
“Prosecution Witness Number Eight (Mosili) has denied such conspiracy by the police against the accused,” Justice Mahase said on Thursday.
“It is mind-boggling that the accused, an ordinary Mosotho, could take the work of police,” the judge said.
“The accused did not disclose to prosecution Witness Number Eight (Mosili) nor tell him that he was recording him.
“This is why he (Mosili) strongly denied this.”
Justice Mahase said it was surprising that Ntsie did not report the threats against his life to the police.
She said this left the court in doubt that there was ever such a conspiracy.
“The accused should have put this to each one of the witnesses . . . failure by accused to put these issues renders his story look more suspicious,” Justice Mahase said.
“One wonders why the police including the investigating officer would want to kill a person who was willing to help.”
Commenting on the ruling, Ntsie’s defence lawyer Haae Phoofolo said he was disappointed with the ruling.
“We are dissatisfied with the ruling but since the case is not yet over we will not give reasons why we are dissatisfied,” Phoofolo told the Sunday Express.
He said it appeared the judge had gone into the merits of the case before it was actually over by concluding that the accused’s claim of a conspiracy was false.
Ntsie’s murder trial continues on Tuesday.