No freedom for Billy

MASERU — Macaefa Billy’s court battles are far from over.

Billy was last May acquitted by the High Court on a charge of sedition.

High Court Judge Thamsanqa Nomncongo ruled that the crown had failed to prove the charges levelled against the opposition politician.

But the prosecution then appealed against Justice Nomncongo’s judgment arguing that the learned judge had erred and misdirected himself.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal ordered the crown’s appeal against the acquittal to go ahead despite the limited record of court proceedings.

Billy is the leader of the opposition Lesotho Workers Party (LWP).

He is also the secretary general of the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party which is in an alliance with the LWP.

The crown alleges that Billy called for the ousting of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili at a rally organised by the ABC in April 2007.

The crown alleges the remarks by Billy were seditious as they were meant to incite violence, disorder and disobedience against the sitting government.

The prosecution had since May last year failed to file the record of the High Court proceedings in the Court of Appeal as the record was not ready.

Yesterday, the prosecution lawyer, Advocate Roland Suhr, asked the Court of Appeal to condone him for filing the record of court proceedings late telling the court the record was also limited.

Suhr told the court that he could not obtain the record of proceedings from the High Court.

“The record which we filed was constructed from the notes taken by the prosecution during the trial.

“It seems there was no electronic recording of the proceedings,” Suhr said.

Billy’s lawyer, Haae Phoofolo, did not object to Suhr’s submission that the case should be heard on the limited record from the High Court.

“It seems there is nothing much to be done except proceeding with the only record available.

“Otherwise the matter would drag for a long time,” Phoofolo said.

In a ruling delivered yesterday, Court of Appeal president  Matheadira Ramodibedi ruled that Billy’s case should proceed in spite of the limited record of court proceedings.

“The order of the court is as follows:

“Application for condonation of late filing of record is granted.

“The appeal will be heard on the record as it is.

“The matter will proceed on the 12th April 2010,” Justice Ramodibedi said.

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