Judge re­cuses self

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

JUS­TICE semapo Peete on Mon­day re­cused him­self from a case in which Cor­po­ral Montsuoe Mot­seko is fight­ing for his re­lease from de­ten­tion.

The judge said he de­cided to re­cuse him­self from the case fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of a story ti­tled ‘Court rules in favour of de­tained sol­dier’ in the Le­sotho Times last week.

In the story, the Le­sotho Times re­ported that Jus­tice Peete had al­ready made a de­ter­mi­na­tion in the case when all he had done was ad­vise the Le­sotho de­fence Force (LDF) coun­sel to ad­vice his clients that the rea­sons for de­tain­ing Cor­po­ral Mot­seko were in­valid and would not stand.

Cor­po­ral Mot­seko is be­ing de­tained at the Max­i­mum se­cu­rity Prison for “false” state­ments he al­legedly made in the high Court against Ma­jor sechele Bu­lane and Lieu­tenant-colonel Thato Phaila.

By al­legedly mak­ing the state- ments against the of­fi­cers on 27 July 2015, Cor­po­ral Mot­seko “con­tra­vened Sec­tion 78 (b) of the LDF act”, his Court Mar­tial charge sheet reads.

In his ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the high Court, Cor­po­ral Mot­seko is pray­ing that his de­ten­tion be de­clared un­law­ful “ab ini­tio”.

he also wants the court to or­der the LDF to un­con­di­tion­ally re­lease him and never in­ter­fere with his

“right to lib­erty”.

how­ever, the judge told Cor­po­ral Mot­seko’s lawyer, ad­vo­cate Tu­misang Mosotho and ad­vo­cate Le­holi Motikoe who rep­re­sents the LDF in the case, the rea­son for re­cusal was that the Le­sotho Times had “prej­u­diced the court process” through pub­li­ca­tion of the story.

Jus­tice Peete told the lawyers that the pub­li­ca­tion had put him in a predica­ment.

“The re­port in that is­sue of de­cem­ber 24-30 was pre-emp­tive be­cause the mat­ter was still sub ju­dice. I had not made a de­ci­sion

on the mer­its and de­mer­its of the case but was only ad­vis­ing the coun­sel on po­si­tion of law. What the story has done is to tilt the scales of jus­tice,” said Jus­tice Peete.

he also noted that the story cre­ated a per­cep­tion or an im­pres­sion that the court had al­ready made a de­ci­sion when it had merely ad­vised the coun­sels on the con­cept of ju­di­cial priv­i­leges.

The Le­sotho Times un­re­servedly apol­o­gises for the in­con­ve­nience the pub­li­ca­tion of the story has caused Jus­tice Peete and the two par­ties in­volved in the case.

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