Saturday, February 26, 2011

State enters nolle, police re-arrest treason Lozis

State enters nolle, police re-arrest treason Lozis
By Namatama Mundia
Sat 26 Feb. 2011, 04:01 CAT

CELEBRATIONS by the 23 Lozis accused of treason were short-lived yesterday when they were rearrested immediately after the state entered a nolle prosequi in their case.

And Vice-President George Kunda claimed police acted professionally when they shot dead a man who allegedly wanted to set a filling station ablaze during the January 14, 2011 Mongu fracas.

When the matter came up for mention before acting chief resident magistrate Sharon Newa, public prosecutor Mwewa Musonda first called the case of 54-year-old Lusaka-based police officer Maybin Sikwa, who was separately charged with treason.
Musonda said Sikwa was appearing for mention awaiting a certificate of committal to the High Court from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“However, I have received a nolle prosequi in respect of the accused,” he said.

After magistrate Newa told Sikwa he had been discharged because the state had entered a nolle prosequi, Sikwa tried to walk to freedom and was seen waving his hands, but Musonda asked him to stay in the dock to the amazement of people who were in the gallery.

Musonda then called the case of Muyangana Muyangana and 21 others who were also facing similar charges.
He told the court that the 22 were also appearing for mention awaiting a certificate of committal from the DPP.
Musonda again said he had received a nolle prosequi in respect of all the accused.

One of the accused persons’ lawyer, Dr Rodger Chongwe, said that while the defence welcomed the decision, it wanted to put on record that the offence his clients was charged with was very serious and there was a danger of rearresting and detaining the people who had been in detention for over two months.

“I hope this is not the intention of the state,” he said.

Another defence lawyer, Moses Chitambala, added that there was no legal basis either in the Penal Code or any other law upon which the state would seek to have the accused persons held in custody after a nolle prosequi had been entered.

“It is our humble submission that the state, having entered a nolle prosequi, the accused persons should be freed forthwith,” he said.
In response to the defence’s concerns, Musonda said, “That is what the state is exactly doing, they are free with regard to the nolle prosequi which has been issued, however, when the state has reasons and believe that other charges can be slapped on the suspects, it’s just reasonable to keep such accused within our reach.”

But Dr Chongwe complained this was something completely new under practice and law.“If this trend is not stopped, then we will all be prisoners of the state,” he said.

Dr Chongwe said Article 13 of the Constitution protected the freedom and integrity of all citizens who reside in Zambia.
He said there was no charge before the court against the accused after the nolle prosequi was entered which asked the court to detain them. The state was fishing for fresh charges in the Kafue River or near Kalabo.

Dr Chongwe asked the court to discharge the accused adding they could easily be traced. He said three quarters of them did not even have passports to leave the country.

Ruling on the application, magistrate Newa said the state had entered a nolle prosequi and all the accused persons were discharged.
“If the state wishes to rearrest you, they have the powers. The concerns by the defence can’t be addressed before this court,” magistrate Newa said.

Musonda requested magistrate Newa to leave the courtroom and ordered that all the people in the gallery go outside.
As the people were leaving, about 20 plain clothes police officers entered the courtroom and escorted the discharged Lozis to a holding cell.

In the meantime, about 20 armed police officers went outside and formed a barricade so that neither journalist nor relatives of the discharged Lozis could approach the holding cell.

After a few minutes, the discharged Lozis left the holding cell under tight security and were forced to board a Nkwazi Football club bus between two police vehicles carrying armed officers and drove off as the discharged Lozis waved to their sympathisers who looked on in astonishment.

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