SA hands over suspects in Lesotho PM murder plot

Seven suspected mercenaries alleged to have plotted to kill Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili were extradited by South Africa on Tuesday to face trial in the tiny kingdom, officials said.

South African police said in a statement that the seven were extradited to face charges of conspiracy to kill the prime minister, murder, attempted murder, robbery, kidnapping and illegal possession of fire arms.

The seven men were arrested in South Africa shortly after a military-style attack in April 2009 on Mosisili’s residence, when four of the attackers were killed in a gunfight with soldiers.

The extradition request was filed in 2009. Police gave no reason for the delay in returning the suspects to Lesotho, an impoverished nation completely surrounded by South Africa.

The office of Lesotho’s Director of Public Prosecution, Leaba Thetsane, confirmed the seven were in Lesotho and would appear in high court on Wednesday.

“The seven will appear in court tomorrow morning,” said the secretary in the DPP’s office.

Lesotho police spokesperson Inspector Lekhotla Mokete said he was still gathering information on the case.

“All I know is that they are in the country,” said Mokete.

The suspected mastermind of the attack, Makotoko Lerotholi had also been arrested in South Africa in 2009, but died after an illness.

The shooting on Mosisili’s residence was the most dramatic in a series of attacks on political leaders in the country since disputed elections in 2007, in which the opposition still contest the allocation of seats in parliament. — AFP

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