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Judge not qualified to hear matter – lawyer

Former army boss Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao

Oct. 13, 2020 2 min read

A LAWYER representing some of the soldiers accused of the murder of former army commander, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao contends that the presiding judge is not qualified to hear the case.

Advocate Napo Mafaesa made this submission on Tuesday when addressing the Appeal Court in an appeal in which his clients want Justice Charles Hungwe to recuse himself from the matter.

Mafaesa represents Motsamai Fako, Motšoane Machae and Tšitso Ramoholi

The three along with other soldiers are accused of the June 25, 2015 murder of Mahao in Mokema on the outskirts of Maseru.

The appeal was lodged after their application for the recusal of Justice Hungwe was shot down by the High Court.

Mafaesa submitted that in his judgment, Justice Hungwe made comments which raised a perception of bias on his side, adding that the judge made findings of certain facts of the case.

He said the use of the word 'accomplices' in the judgment shows that the judge had already made a decision that the accused are guilty of wrong doing.

He added that the word carries a meaning in criminal context.
For his part, Adv Christopher Lephuthing for the respondents argued that the ruling was rightly predicated, adding that the facts were put by the petitioner.

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He submitted that a bail application is a preliminary inquiry and every judge should provide reasons for turning down such an application.

There is nothing, he further showed that prohibits a judge hearing a bail application to hear the main trial.

He asked the court to dismiss the appeal saying it is not premised on good faith.
The court is expected to make a decision on the appeal on October 30.

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