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‘Tortured’ colonel bleeds in court

by Lesotho Times
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Colonel Posa Alphoncy Stemmere on Monday started bleeding through the nose in the High Court as he narrated his ordeal at the hands of his Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) imprisoners.

Colonel Stemmere was brought to court under heavy LDF security after being arrested by the army on Tuesday last week.

However, while still sitting in the dock after telling the court about his state of health since the detention at Maseru Maximum Security Prison, the colonel’s  lawyer, Advocate Thabang Letsie suddenly stood up and told presiding judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa: “My Lord, Colonel Stemmere is bleeding from the nose”.

After realizing the bleeding, the judge ordered Colonel Stemmere to be given tissue paper to wipe the blood, which stopped almost four minutes later.

Narrating his ordeal, Colonel Stemmere told Justice Moiloa that he had been tortured by his captors since his arrest and was in pain as a result.

“I feel pain all over the body; from head to toe. My feet and hands are swollen, while my hands are also numb from the assault while in detention. Sometimes urine comes out of my body unexpectedly, and my feet are so weak I cannot stand for long,” the colonel said, drawing gasps from the packed gallery.

After this statement, the judge then allowed Colonel Stemmere to sit down and asked him to continue.

Colonel Stemmere then told the court that he bruises all over the body from beatings by his captors, and now had “endless headaches” due to the torture.

He also told the judge that he had never seen a doctor since his arrest, and requested that he be allowed medical examination and treatement.

Asked by the judge if he had seen his wife during the detention, Colonel Stemmere said he had seen her for the first time that day.

Justice Moiloa then ordered that he be allowed to see his doctor “without the earshot of the respondents’ officers but within the eyesight of the respondents’ officers.”

The respondents include the Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, Director of Military Intelligence and the Minister of Defence.

The judge also said: “The respondents are restrained from torturing Colonel Stemmere, and directed to permit visits by Colonel Stemmere’s close relative within working hours.

“This should be between 10am and 3pm.

“The visits should be made within the earshot and eyesight of the respondents’ officers and each visit should not be for a period exceeding one and a half hours.”

Meanwhile, Corporal Motlatsi Letsilane, who also appeared the High Court on Monday,  told Justice Moiloa that he felt cold “all over the body”.

The problem, he added, started after his arrest and detention by LDF members on 25 May 2015.

“I am not well. My feet are swollen and numb. I also have endless pain on the right side of my ribs and a running stomach,” he said.

Corporal Letsilane told the court he suspected the running stomach was due to  ARV pills he had not taken for four days from the day of his arrest.

Asked by the judge if he had told his captors that of his medical condition,  Corporal Letsilane said he had.

“I told them that I was not well and they took me to Makoanyane (Military) Hospital. I told the doctor that the problem started when I was in detention,” he said.

Justice Moiloa then made a ruling similar to the one he made on Colonel Stemmere regarding visits by relatives and getting medical attention.

Both Corporal Letsilane and  Colonel Stemmere were arrested by their colleague for allegedly being part of a plot to violently remove the LDF guard.

Their court appearance was the result of applications by their relatives who wanted to ascertain their health status.  They both remain in detention at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison.

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