Lawyer makes U-turn on Scotts

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Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Advocate Thulo Hoeane has made an about-turn on his decision to quit the case of double ritual murder suspects, Lehlohonolo Scott and his mother ‘Malehlohonolo, but the lawyer is now pushing for a foreign judge to preside over the matter.

Advocate Hoeane, who was appointed by the government to represent the Scotts, last Wednesday shocked a fully packed High Court when he announced his withdrawal as the trial was about to begin.

After the announcement, presiding judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa was left with no choice but to postpone the trial to 16 May 2016. The Scotts, who are accused of butchering two people in Koalabata four years ago, pleaded not guilty when the trial resumed last week.

While Advocate Hoeane was not clear before the court what he meant by “professional reasons” when he announced he was pulling out of the case, he later told the Lesotho Times he was not happy with the way Justice Moiloa had conducted the trial since it started hence his decision to withdraw.

Asked why he did not apply for the judge’s recusal if he suspected he was biased, Advocate Hoeane said he did not believe his application would be successful hence his decision to quit.

However, the lawyer told the Lesotho Times yesterday he had reconsidered the decision after the suspects pleaded with him to continue representing them.

“I met Lehlohonolo and his mother again in prison. He doesn’t want any other lawyer to represent him in the trial, but me,” said Advocate Hoeane.

“They both said we had come a long way with the trial and trust me to represent them. I have since reconsidered my position concerning my withdrawal from this matter.”

The lawyer said he was now seeking a meeting with Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara to request for the appointment of a foreign judge to preside over the trial. Only a foreign judge, Advocate Hoeane said, could be neutral in the case.

“We now have this feeling that every local judge has an interest in this case considering how much the trial has become a subject of interest to the entire nation,” he said.

“We feel local judges are sympathetic to the victims in this matter. That’s why we need a judge from the southern African region, but definitely not Lesotho.”

Advocate Hoeane said his efforts to secure a meeting with Chief Justice Majara this week had so far been unsuccessful.

“The judge is hardly available in her office, so it has been difficult to meet her since Monday,” he said.

“But, I am hopeful that I will eventually meet her before the end of this week and raise our concerns. The chief justice is vested with powers to appoint judges for any case, hence she is the right person to approach. My clients have every legal right to a fair trial.”

The Scotts were arrested on 12 July 2012 for allegedly killing Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22) in January and July 2012, respectively.

The victims’ body parts were found in three locations in Koalabata, prompting speculation they had been killed for ritual purposes.

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