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Lesotho PM fails to show in court on murder charge

February 21, 2020

The prime minister of the tiny southern African nation of Lesotho, Thomas Thabane, did not show up to court to be charged with murdering his wife. Police said they will issue an arrest warrant if he cannot be found.

Thomas Thabane in 2013 picture-alliance/dpa)
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Lesotho PM faces murder charge

Lesotho's prime minister failed to appear in court on Friday morning, where he was expected to face the charge of murdering his wife.

Thomas Thabane's private secretary said he did not show up as he was having a medical check-up in nearby South Africa.

"It is not true that he has gone to South Africa to seek political asylum," private secretary Thabo Thakalekoala told DPA.

Deputy police commissioner Paseka Mokete told South African radio station 702 that Thabane was supposed to be formally charged with three counts — murder, attempted murder, and malicious damage to property.

He then said that if it were to be established that Thabane had tried to flee the country, an arrest warrant would be issued.

Empty dock in Maseru, Lesotho
Empty dock in Maseru, LesothoImage: Reuters/Sumaya Hisham

Lipolelo shot by unknown assailant

Lipolelo Thabane and the prime minister were going through an acrimonious divorce when she was shot dead by an unknown assailant in June 2017, a few days before Thabane took office.

Thabane and his new wife Maesaiah, who he married two months after Lipolelo's death, was arrested, charged and granted bail after handing herself over to authorities earlier in February.

The two women were engaged in a legal battle about who should be first lady at the time of Lipolelo's death. 

In January, 80-year-old Thabane announced he would soon step down as prime minister, citing his advanced age.

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ed/rt (dpa, AP, Reuters)