Lesotho: Trial of soldiers for shooting newspaper editor offers hope of justice
The trial of five members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) for the attempted murder of journalist, Lloyd Mutungamiri, is a welcome first step towards justice said Amnesty International today, ahead of the first hearing on 13 December.
This trial needs to send a clear message that the targeting of journalists will no longer be tolerated in Lesotho.
The editor of the Lesotho Times suffered near fatal gunshot wounds after being attacked outside his home in Maseru on 9 July 2016. The shooting followed his newspaper’s publication of an article two weeks earlier, alleging that the outgoing LDF head, Tlali Kamoli, was to receive an exit package of approximately US$3.5 million.
“This trial needs to send a clear message that the targeting of journalists will no longer be tolerated in Lesotho. The press must be allowed to do their job without living in constant fear of reprisals,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
“Lloyd Mutungamiri’s world has been turned upside down since the shooting. He was forced to abandon his job and flee the country.”
Our hope is that, through a fair, independent and impartial trial, justice is served and journalists can carry out their work in a safe environment
Lloyd Mutungamiri was shot two times and left in a critical condition after one of the bullets shattered his lower jaw, requiring him to undergo extensive facial surgery. A brigadier and four soldiers will stand trial for the attack.
On 24 June 2016, the day after the Tlali Kamoli article was published, Lloyd Mutungamiri and Lesotho Times reporter, Keiso Mohloboli, were interrogated by police and members of the LDF about what had been published, before being released. Following this, Lloyd Mutungamiri and Lesotho Times owner Basildon Peta were interrogated on 5 July, four days before the shooting.
“Our hope is that, through a fair, independent and impartial trial, justice is served and journalists can carry out their work in a safe environment,” said Deprose Muchena.