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State opposes bail application in editor’s shooting

by Lesotho Times
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Pascalinah Kabi

THE Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Hlalefang Motinyane yesterday filed opposing papers in which two army officers, charged with attempted murder of Lesotho Times Editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, are seeking to be released from custody on bail.

The two officers – Colonel Khutlang Mochesane, of Ha Makhoathi; and Second Lieutenant Mahanyane Phusumane, of Masowe, were arrested and charged with attempted murder in November 2017. However, during yesterday’s hearing, the prosecution argued that they are flight risks. Mochesane and Phusumane respectively filed their bail papers on 7 and 14 December.

The two are charged together with Brigadier Rapele Mphaki; Lance Corporal Nyatso Tšoeunyane; and Lance Corporal Maribe Nathane. They are also charged with malicious damage of Mutungamiri’s three vehicles.

In opposing bail, the police investigating officer, Lance Sergeant Mohoang argued that releasing Mochesane from custody would render him a flight risk.

“It is important to point out that the offence the petitioner is charged with allegedly took place on 9 July 2016. The petitioner was only arrested sometime in November 2017, nearly eighteen months after the alleged commission of the offence.

“During this time, the petitioner did not hand himself to the police and was only arrested after a long painstaking investigation. This is clearly at variance with his assertions herein that he will stand his trial. This is conduct typical of a person who wants to evade justice at all costs,” Lance Sergeant Mohoang said.

He further said it was not true that Mochesane’s continued incarceration impaired the former’s defense preparation, saying the accused’s lawyer was at liberty to consult him on a daily basis.

Lance Sergeant Mohoang argued that even for the bail application purposes, Mochesane’s lawyer was afforded all the necessary facilities; adding that, Mochesane only faced the attempted murder charge and that his lawyer would duly consult with him in custody if he wished to raise any defense.

“His emotional attachment to his wife and children is not an exceptional circumstance worthy of any consideration by the court. All men are emotionally attached to their spouses and children. He does not even attempt to say that he has any medical expertise to deal with his wife’s hypertension problem,” Lance Sergeant Mohoang said, adding that Mochesane was a retired soldier who should have known better than to engage in illegal activities.

On Second Lieutenant Phusumane, Lance Sergeant Mohoang said the former faces a very serious charge and that if convicted, he was likely to be handed a very long prison sentence.

He added, this fact rendered him unlikely to stand trial and it would be in the interest of justice if he was denied bail.

“Save to say that, notwithstanding the fact that he is a Lesotho citizen, he has a wife, a child and supports his deceased sister’s child, his wife can ably look after their children. There is no suggestion that his wife will be incapacitated in her duties as a mother to the aforesaid minor children. She is after all a qualified nurse over and above just being a mother.”

Lance Corporal added that Public safety was likely to be endangered if he was to be released on bail while it was a possibility that he was unlikely to stand trial due to the nature of his charge. “He has no intention, whatsoever, to stand his trial.”

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