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Fight over Court Martial documents



MASERU – CROWN counsel Advocate Shaun Abrahams on Tuesday rejected a request by the defence to access the Court Martial records in Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao’s murder case.
The defence said it needs a record of the Court Martial proceedings in order to challenge evidence presented before court by Major General Poqa Motoa.

The case, which is before the High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe, involves former army boss Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, three other soldiers and two prominent politicians.
The six are being charged with the murder of Lt Gen Mahao.

In his testimony on January 28 this year, Maj Gen Motoa said there was no mutiny against Lt Gen Kamoli when they were arrested in 2015.
Nonetheless, the defence then used evidence that had been presented from the Court Martial to puncture holes in his testimony.

Advocate Abrahams however queried the defence’s strategy arguing the documents the defence were using were not authentic.
Justice Hungwe ruled that the documents be certified so that they could be used in court.

The matter was then postponed to this week with the defence lawyers saying they had managed to see the authentic documents from the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) but the army said it could only release them through a court order.

On Tuesday instead of dwelling on his previous argument that the documents were not authentic, Advocate Abrahams brought up a new query.
He said he did not see why the defence wanted to use the documents in their cross-examination of Maj Gen Motoa.
He argued that the documents were totally irrelevant in the Mahao murder case because they welled from the Court Martial proceedings in which the accused were acquitted.

“The documents are useless in this case so they shouldn’t be used,” Advocate Abrahams argued.

“The documents are inadmissible and have nothing to do with this case,” he said.

He said if the defence applied for an order to get the authentic records from the army, he would oppose it.
Lt Gen Kamoli’s lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, argued that it is the responsibility of the prosecutor to provide the defence with all they need to help them prepare their case.

“What is it that the prosecution is hiding that they don’t want us to have access to the documents?” Advocate Molati said.

“It is surprising that the prosecution now comes up with excuses that the documents are inadmissible yet the last time they said those documents were not authentic and needed to be certified,” he said.

“Now we have taken the initiative to reach the Lesotho Defence Force to grant us those documents,” he said.

He said they were advised to request the court to issue an order to allow the army to release the documents.

“Now Abrahams comes up with an objection saying the documents are inadmissible?” he said.

Advocate Silas Ratau, another defence lawyer, said what Advocate Abrahams did clearly indicated that “there is something he is hiding”.

“All he has to do is to assist the community and the accused persons,” Advocate Ratau said.

“Now he is withholding information because he knows exactly that there was no acquittal in the Court Martial as he claims,” he said.

Advocate Ratau told Justice Hungwe that he could not proceed with Maj Gen Motoa’s cross-examination without the documents.
The defence counsel said Maj Gen Motoa himself admitted in his evidence that he was one of the officers who were accused of mutiny and he wanted to cross-examine him on that part of the evidence.

“All we need from the documents that Advocate Abrahams does not want us to have access to is the remand sheet and statements made,” Advocate Ratau said.

Justice Hungwe ruled that the defence should make a formal application for an order for the release of the documents by the Lesotho Defence Force.
He said the crown should file their reply to allow the case to be argued.
The case was postponed to May 2.

’Malimpho Majoro

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