Prominent lawyer Khotso Nthontho arrested
Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) are concerned about the arrest of lawyer Khotso Nthontho and the ongoing threats against lawyers in Lesotho. Particularly the lawyers representing 23 soldiers accused of plotting a mutiny seem to be at risk.
The arrest and release of lawyer Khotso Nthontho
Prominent Lesotho lawyer Khotso Nthontho was arrested in the early evening of 12 February 2016, on allegations of perjury. According to the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) it is understood that these allegations relate to Mr. Nthontho’s representation of some of the soldiers charged with mutiny. An urgent High Court Order was obtained for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Nthontho and he was released under heavy security shortly before midnight on 12 February 2016. While he was under arrest, Mr. Nthontho’s family home in Maseru and personal vehicle appear to have been shot, causing serious damage to both.
Mr. Nthontho has been formally charged with perjury on 16 February 2016. The case is remanded to 26 February 2016, at which point the court will determine a hearing date.
Lawyers representing 23 soldiers accused of mutiny continue to be at risk
Mr. Nthontho is one of a team of five lawyers representing 23 soldiers accused of plotting a mutiny with ex-army chief Maaparankoe Mahao, who was killed on 25 June 2015. In recent months the lawyers, Haae Phoofolo, Christopher Lephuthing, Koili Ndebele, Tumisang Mosotho and Mr. Nthontho, have been victims of repeated threats and intimidation by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), both in and outside the court. Late last year, an alleged ‘hit list’ was circulated that listed the names of Mr. Nthontho and the four other lawyers representing the accused soldiers. In December 2015, Lawyers for Lawyers and LRWC already asked the authorities, in line with the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, to conduct an investigation into the origin of the ‘hit list’ and to guarantee the safety of the lawyers.
Click here for the official press statement.
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