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Soldier petitions PM over arrest

Caswell Tlali

 

MASERU — An army captain whose treason charges related to the 2007 political disturbances were  withdrawn from the High Court for lack of evidence has requested Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate why he was “falsely implicated” in the first place.

Captain Lehloa Ramotso claims he was tortured and harassed by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers during and after his arrest following the June 2007 post-election upheavals.

He says he was accused of political activism in the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.

Ramotso also says the army accused him of taking part in the attacks at State House and the LDF’s Makoanyane Barracks last April.

He says if the commission establishes that he had a hand in the disturbances then “drastic legal measures” should be taken against him.

“If I am found to be involved with any political party I request that drastic legal measures be taken against me,” reads part of the letter Ramotso has written to the PM.

The Sunday Express has a copy of the letter.

“I further request that it be considered that had it not been because of the unfounded, baseless, false accusations I could have advanced, just like my colleagues, in my career as an officer and pilot.”

Ramotso wrote to Mosisili on March 24 after the army boss, Lieutenant-General Thuso Motanyane, turned down his request for the set up of a commission of inquiry.

He had made the request on February 3.

Ramotso told the Sunday Express that Motanyane had told him that “it would not be appropriate to attempt to address the matter” which the High Court was already dealing with.

Ramotso argues that his demands were not related to a case he had in the High Court.

Ramotso was arrested by the military police on June 17 2007 and was allegedly tortured before he was taken to air wing commander Brigadier Victor Mohapi who informed him that he was being charged with treason.

“I was transferred by the Director Military Intelligence (MI) then Lt Col Kamoli to the police with the allegation that I was involved in the June 2007 military attacks with the intention to commit high treason,” he wrote.

“The court declined to remand me and others because I had been illegally arrested and tortured by LDF officers.

“On the 7th July 2007 the court order was made to release me and the others from either police or military custody.

“Even before I could be released from police custody, Maj Panyane and his soldiers stormed the police station and seized me.”

He said the LDF took him to court on July 10 2007 for a remand hearing despite the fact that the director of public prosecutions and the police “were of the view that the evidence against me from LDF was thread-bare”.

On November 17 last year charges against him were withdrawn for lack of evidence, he said.

“Sir, these show clearly that the treason charge against me originated from the military intelligence,” he wrote.

“Again there was another allegation of being active in politics of which is a very serious offence in the military, but no measures were taken against me.”

Ramotso was however suspended from work until December last year when he was called back to duty.

He tells Mosisili that during his suspension his bosses harassed him by taking his property out of his official residence and putting it in the open for 10 days “despite the court order telling them not to”.

He claims the LDF allegedly promised to pay him for the damaged property when he threatened to lay a contempt of court charge against them but “up to now nothing has been paid”.

Ramotso was again accused of taking part in the April 22 attacks at State House and Makoanyane Barracks.

“In September 2009 the LDF was alleging that I am the enemy of the state and in any way or the other I am involved in the 22nd April 2009 attacks at Makoanyane Barracks and the State House,” he wrote.

“Again the LDF was trying to pin another unfounded, baseless, false allegation on me.”

Ramotso said when he was recalled to work in December last year nobody said anything to him concerning

the allegations, adding “I think I deserve to know the truth”.

Ramotso declined to comment when the Sunday Express contacted him on Thursday.

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