Shock Appeal Court sentence for murderer

MASERU — When the High Court slapped him with eight years in jail for murder, Serame Linake, thought the sentence was harsh.

He appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Last Thursday, Linake had a big shock. 

The court added two more years on his jail sentence.

Linake was last year convicted and jailed for killing Tau Setene during a police operation at Linareng in Mokhotlong district in July 1999.

The High Court sentenced Linake to eight years imprisonment.

Linake however appealed against both conviction and sentence.

He claimed that when he killed Setene he was acting in self-defence.

The prosecution also cross-appealed against the eight-year sentence arguing the sentence was too lenient.

In a judgment last Thursday, Court of Appeal president, Michael Ramodibedi, dismissed Linake’s appeal.

“The sentence of eight years imprisonment imposed by the trial court is set aside and is replaced with the following sentence: 10 years imprisonment,” Justice Ramodibedi said.

Linake and five other police officers were on an operation to arrest Vunathela Komisi and Thabang Saete for illegal possession of firearms.

According to evidence presented in the High Court the police officers conducted a search and found two 9mm bullets. Police arrested Komisi and Saete.

Following the arrest a group of villagers hurled insults at the police accusing them of carrying their job selectively.

They accused the police of paying a blind eye to criminal acts that were being done in a neighbouring village called Ha-Ntsása.

Linake told the court that he shot Setene after he and some villagers started hurling stones at him.

He claimed that he was acting in self-defence.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Linake’s claims saying none of the witnesses who testified in court mentioned that stones were hurled at the police officer.

The court also expressed dismay at the delay in bringing the case to a close.

“As mentioned earlier, the events leading up to the deceased’s killing took place as far back as 23rd July 1999.

“The appellant’s trial only commenced in July 2008 — an unconscionable delay of nine years. In the meantime, not only did the appellant continue in his work as a policeman but he was also promoted to the rank of full sergeant,” said Justice Ramodibedi.

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