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Bid to remove foreign judges gets short shrift

Publish date: 13 May 2019
Issue Number: 823
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Criminal

When Judge Charles Hungwe, from Zimbabwe, arrived in Lesotho this year to start work on a series of controversial trials, he was given a warm reception in the local media. But matters have changed since then with the accused in some of the cases over which he was due to preside proving rather less than welcoming. In fact, 16 accused due to stand trial before him brought an application for his appointment – and the appointment of all other foreign judges who might hear the pending cases – to be declared unconstitutional. As Carmel Rickard explains in her A Matter of Justice column on the Legalbrief site, the 16 accused were led by Lesotho’s former Defence Minister, Tseliso Mokhosi. Their ultimately unsuccessful application was based on the argument that the foreign judges had been appointed with the connivance of the executive, to ensure the conviction of the accused and their harshest possible punishment, even the possible death penalty. The court, however, dismissed these allegations as 'scurrilous' and 'deplorable', and found that the executive had not acted improperly.

A Matter of Justice