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Soldiers’ defence lawyers say might pull out



MASERU – LAWYERS defending soldiers in the Lieutenant General Maaparankoe murder case say they will not appear before the court unless the government pays their legal fees.

The accused are the former army boss, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and eight others.

High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, had to postpone the case to November 17 as he ponders on the lawyers’ arguments.

For the last three years, the irate lawyers have not been given any payment to deal with the case.

“We have assembled here because the crown is prosecuting the accused,” Justice Hungwe said.

“It is up to the crown to push this further,” the judge said.

Justice Hungwe said the crown “has to see to it that all the obstacles are cleared”.

He said the task of ensuring that the defence lawyers are paid is squarely on the shoulders of the crown.

One of the defence lawyers, Advocate Kabelo Letuka, said he could no longer continue to represent the accused unless the office of the registrar makes a commitment that the pro deo fees that he has been promised will be paid.

Advocate Letuka said he believes this stance is similar to the position that was taken by the crown a while ago.

“The crown made it clear that Advocate Shawn Abrahams would not be in court unless there was a commitment to that effect,” Advocate Letuka said.

So he was adopting the same stance.

Advocate Letuka further told the court that he has “now run out of charity funds that I could have to transport me to the court and prepare for the cases”.

“I am not saying I am withdrawing from the matter,” he said.

“But all I am saying is that if we are to proceed any time this week or next week or next month and there is no commitment for such, then I would not be able to come to court,” he said.

The government is battling a severe financial crunch that is likely to hit the delivery of justice in Lesotho.

Advocate Motene Rafoneke, on behalf of the crown, said the defence lawyers were keeping them in the dark about this matter.

“We tried to find out which ways we could help in this matter,” Advocate Rafoneke said.

“But the defence team did not communicate with us,” he said.

Advocate Rafoneke said the crown is “ready to continue with the case anytime the court pleases”.

He said it is their expectation to see this matter continuing in the courts and reaching finality.

Tholoana Lesenya

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