Judge declares army actions legal

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High Court judge Justice Teboho Moiloa

High Court judge Justice Teboho Moiloa

Tefo Tefo

High Court judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa, on Monday dismissed applications by the wives and relatives of 11 detained Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members who wanted their arrest and incarceration to be declared illegal.

The soldiers were arrested and detained by the LDF between May and July this year for allegedly being part of a foiled plot to overthrow the military command.

The applicants had also sought the LDF to be ordered to bring the detainees to the High Court and verify allegations that they were tortured during their detention and also that they were still alive.

The detained soldiers had told the High Court during their different appearances in court that they were in pain as a result of torture.

Most of the soldiers were complaining they could not stand for long because of severe pain in their feet as they were in leg-irons day and night in detention.

The applicants further wanted the court to order that the soldiers should be allowed access to their lawyers and medical treatment by doctors of their choice.

Justice Moiloa had granted interim orders that the detained soldiers should have access to legal representatives and doctors of their choice, and also ordered the torture to stop.

On Monday this week, Justice Moiloa confirmed all the interim orders to be final, but refused to rule the soldiers’ arrest and detention unlawful.

“The prayers that their arrest was unlawful are refused and dismissed.

“The arrests were lawful because they were done in accordance with Section 86 of the Lesotho Defence Force Act (of 1996),” he ruled.

Justice Moiloa’s judgment means the said soldiers would remain in the Maseru Maximum Security Prison until Court Martial proceedings against them are complete.

However, one of the soldiers, Brigadier Thoso Mareka, is not in prison after the Court of Appeal on 7 August upheld a High Court decision that he should be staying at his home while awaiting trial by the military court, whose date has not yet been established.

Brigadier Mareka was released from detention and placed under ‘an open arrest’ because of poor health.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court is yet to hear another case in which 23 members of the LDF want the court to block Court Martial proceedings against them.

The soldiers include the 11 who lost the bid to have their arrest and detention declared unlawful on Monday.

The Constitutional Court will hear the case on Wednesday next week.

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