Lesotho's 'controversial' amnesty bill on the cards

2016-11-24 13:30
Tom Thabane (File: AFP)

Tom Thabane (File: AFP)

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Maseru - A controversial bill intended to grant amnesty to members of the Lesotho disciplined forces and civil servants liable for criminal prosecution for acts including the alleged 2014 coup and the 2015 killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao is on the table.

The bill, that covers acts committed from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2015, was read before the country’s national assembly went for Christmas break.

It covers “offences done or purported to have been done in the execution of duty or within the scope or course of employment and for protection and defence of the Kingdom of Lesotho or for public safety or order, or for the prevention or suppression of mutiny or internal disorder, or in pursuit of any political objective”.

Members of the army were accused of arming civilians to unseat the government as far back as 2007, an attempt on the life of the then prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili in 2009, and the bombing of the then prime minister Tom Thabane’s girlfriend’s residence in 2014.

Outgoing army commander Tlali Kamoli has been accused of attempting to overthrow former prime minister Thabane in August 2014, arresting and torturing soldiers suspected of a mutiny, and ordering the arrest turned killing of former commander Maaparankoe Mahao.

Compensation 

The bill covers high treason, murder, acts of violence against persons, malicious damage to property, incitement to commit crime and contravention of the internal security act.

All these, including murders and other offences allegedly committed by officers and civil servants while on duty, will be pardoned if the law is passed.

At least 23 soldiers were arrested between May and June 2015, seven were placed on open arrest and 16 remain in custody in maximum security prison, but all of them await a court martial.  If the law is passed, they will immediately be released.

"After their release from arrest or detention, no criminal, disciplinary or civil proceedings shall be undertaken against them, and if any is contemplated, they shall immediately be discontinued or not undertaken..." reads a section of the law.

The SADC Commission of Inquiry that was headed by Botswana Judge Mphaphi Phumaphi recommended amnesty for the arrested soldiers, and prosecution for those who killed Mahao, but the coalition government is adamant the amnesty should cover all soldiers and members of the disciplined forces.

The law also offers compensation for victims who have been affected or suffered damages while the offences were committed.

Read more on:    pakalitha mosisili  |  tom thabane  |  lesotho  |  southern africa

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