Lesotho PM murder suspects in court

Seven suspected mercenaries alleged to have plotted to kill Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili were on Wednesday charged with 31 counts and remanded in custody.

“The case has now been committed to the high court and the court will set a date for the hearing,” said Inspector Lekhotla Mokete of the Lesotho police.

The six Mozambicans and one South African, who were extradited by South Africa to Lesotho on Tuesday, appeared in the magistrates’ court here and their case was referred to the high court.

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 16 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 seven suspects to Lesotho, an impoverished nation completely surrounded by South Africa.

Two other suspects are already in custody in Lesotho after they were arrested in the wake of the 2009 attack on Mosisili and another two are still on the run.

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

The suspects are collectively charged with four counts of murder, 13 counts of attempted murder, three of robbery, seven of kidnapping and four counts of contravening the laws of Lesotho.

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. — Sapa-AFP

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