Published: Thu, February 27, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Lesotho PM in court on suspicion of murdering wife, requests immunity

Lesotho PM in court on suspicion of murdering wife, requests immunity

80-year-old Thomas Thabane was due to appear in court on charges of murdering his former wife, Lilipelo Thabane. This comes after iHarare reported yesterday that the prime minister had been charged with murdering his ex-wife after police threatened to issue an arrest warrant if there was evidence that Thabane was trying to evade justice.

"He is not attending court, he has gone for a medical check up in South Africa", his personal secretary Thabo Thakalekoala told AFP, adding it is a "routine" medical check.

Thabane's no-show for the preliminary appearance on Friday prompted police to warn they could issue an arrest warrant.

"With such powerful suspects facing murder and attempted murder charges - and a long history of impunity in the country - it is imperative that Lesotho's authorities ensure that those people whose testimony is central to the case, are kept safe from harm".

The presiding magistrate referred the case to the High Court, which will be sitting as the Constitutional Court when it hears the case with a panel of at least three judges.

Lesotho's high court, acting as a constitutional court, is to decide if a sitting prime minister can be charged with any crime, according to media reports.

Prosecutors argue that everyone is equal before the law and Mr Thabane should be no exception.

"Against the backdrop of these developments in Lesotho, there have been a lot of questions over the independence of the judiciary from the executive".

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Thabane has said he will resign at the end of July, while several members of his own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party have been pressuring him to go sooner to avert political chaos.

How did the murder take place?

The killing occurred two days before the premier took the oath of office following elections.

He and Lipolelo were going through divorce proceedings at the time.

Two months later she and Mr Thabane got married in a Roman Catholic ceremony.

"With First Lady, Maesaiah Thabane already facing murder charges relating to this sinister case, and now the Prime Minister also on the charge sheet, it's clear that they will receive public scrutiny for their involvement".

Maesaiah has not yet been asked to enter a plea.

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