Court hears recusal arguments in editor’s case
LAWYERS representing the soldiers who are facing attempted murder charges relating to the July 2016 shooting of the Lesotho Times editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, will today argue why they want Senior Resident Magistrate, Phethise Motanyane to recuse himself from the case.
It had been anticipated that the long awaited trial would finally kick off on 15 March this year when the five appeared before Magistrate Motanyane but on that day their lawyer, Advocate Kabelo Letuka, immediately informed the court that they intended to formally apply for the senior magistrate to recuse himself from the case for undisclosed reasons.
Mr Motanyane then decided to postpone the case to today to allow the accused’s lawyers to advance reasons why they want him out of the case.
The five army officers are Brigadier Rapele Mphaki (47), Khutlang Mochesane (57), Mahanyane Phusumane (37), Nyatso Tšoeunyane (41) and Maribe Nathane (35).
They allegedly shot Mr Mutungamiri at his home in Upper Thamae in Maseru during the late hours of 9 July 2016, after he had knocked off from work. He sustained severe facial, dental and hand injuries, causing him to undergo extensive surgery in South Africa.
During their court appearance on 15 March 2018, Advocate Letuka told Mr Motanyane that his clients were not comfortable with him presiding over the case.
“We intend to make an application that Your Worship should recuse himself and we will give reasons when the recusal application is heard,” Adv Letuka said.
Mr Motanyane, then ordered the lawyers to file a formal application for his recusal so that it would be argued today.
The postponement further delayed the case which had been slated to begin after the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Hlalefang Motinyane, last month directed that the case should be heard by a magistrate of the rank of Senior Resident Magistrate.
It was previously presided over by Resident Magistrate, Polo Banyane, who had only been remanding the accused each time they appeared before him while awaiting the finalisation of the prosecution’s case.