‘Lesotho has jurisdiction to try coup plot suspects’

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MASERU — The High Court of Lesotho has jurisdiction to try seven men who are accused of trying to assassinate Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in 2009, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) told the court this week.

Leaba Thetsane told Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo during a trial-within-a-trial of the suspects that Lesotho had jurisdiction to try the suspects.

“This court is not sitting here as appellate tribunal of a decision made in South Africa but is sitting here as a trial court satisfied that the provisions of the treaty between Lesotho and South Africa have been complied with, and the court has jurisdiction to try the suspects,” Thetsane said.

The suspects who were extradited to Lesotho on April 19 claim they were brought into the country illegally.

The seven are facing 31 charges which include attempting to assassinate Mosisili, murder and armed robbery.

The suspects are; Rocky Masinga, Fransisca Mandlate, Mangani Malenge, Angelo Mondlani, George Thomas, Abel Nhantsave and Alberto Makwakwa who has since died.

Defence lawyer, Haae Phoofolo argued at the beginning of the trial that the court had no jurisdiction to try his clients since they had not been lawfully brought into the country.

“Put differently, the basis of the defence objection is that the procedures set out in the extradition treaty and other laws had not been followed in the process of surrendering the accused to the Lesotho authorities,” Phoofolo said.

He also argued that the suspects were not given an opportunity to take their case which was dismissed by the High Court in Bloemfontein to the South African Supreme Court of Appeal.

But Thetsane dismissed an argument by the accused that before they left South Africa on April 19, 2011, they were not told where they were being taken to.

The accused also claimed the ministerial order authorising the extradition was not shown to them, except when they were handed to Lesotho authorities at the Maseru border post.

Thetsane said it was not true that the suspects were not told that they were being taken to Lesotho last April.

“It is highly improbable that they could not have been told that they were being taken to Lesotho,” Thetsane said.

The suspects must prove on the balance of probabilities why this court should believe them when they say they were not told that they were being handed to Lesotho, he added.

The case was postponed to October 13.

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