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Lissu case: Sureties application opposed

THE prosecution has filed an objection, seeking dismissal of application by two sureties, Ibrahim Ahmed and Robert Katula, who bailed out former Singida East Member of Parliament (MP) Tundu Lissu, in his sedition trial.

In the application, the two sureties have applied for orders of the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam to arrest Lissu for allegedly refusing to come back from Belgium to attend the hearing of the case, which is still pending.

Senior State Attorney Wankyo Simon, for the prosecution, told Principal Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba on Tuesday when the case came for mention that they were opposing the hearing of the application by the sureties because of two reasons.

According to him, the court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the application and is functus officio. This means the same matter has already been dealt with by the court.

Mr Wankyo, however, requested the court to allow them to address the court on objections raised by way of written submissions. The two sureties could not raise any objection to the prosecution’s suggestion.

Following such a position, the magistrate granted the request and ordered the prosecution to file their submissions on July 28, this year.

He directed the sureties to file their response submissions on August 11, this year and the prosecution could file their rejoinder, if any, on August 18, this year.

The magistrate adjourned the case to August 19, this year for mention with a view of fixing a date for delivery of the ruling.

The hearing of the case, which also involves two seasoned Journalists Simon Mkina and Jabir Yunus, as well as businessman and Printer Ismail Mehbood has failed to proceed for more than two years now because of Lissu’s absence and the two sureties have failed to convince him to come back from abroad.

In affidavits to support the application, the sureties state that Lissu was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Singida Constituency and was appointed as the leader of the opposition wing.

By virtue of his position, he was given residence by the government in Dodoma.

While in Dar es Salaam, according to them, Lissu was arraigned alongside three others in the criminal case in 2016 before the court and that they stood as sureties for him due to the fact that the offence he was charged with was bailable.

It is stated that the opposition leader was not forbidden to be in Dodoma by conditions of bail during the parliamentary sessions where he stayed in his residence provided to him by the government.

On September 7, 2017 while within the premises of his residence he was ambushed by a team of gunmen. The gunmen randomly shot him several bullets in parts of his body, leaving him badly wounded or injured and unconscious.

While in such state, Lissu was taken to Dodoma Central Hospital where preliminary resuscitation was carried out and was later flown to Nairobi in Kenya for further checks.

While in Dodoma Hospital, the sureties further stated, the MP was in hands of the government being heavily guarded by policemen and other security personnel and the whole of his itinerary between the hospital and that of Nairobi was organised by the government.

They stated that a doctor from Dodoma government hospital accompanied Lissu to Nairobi and itinerary for treatment in other subsequent destinations were organised as such and this fact is public knowledge due to the fact that even the MPs fundraised for the costs of the same.

The sureties stated that Lissu was not jumping bail when he left the territorial jurisdiction of the court as he was unconscious and the departure was made easier by the court as it let him remain with all his travel documents while out on bail.

According to the sureties, the opposition leader was flown out of the country without being notified, as his sureties and they were not consulted and they came to know about the matter later through newspapers, news which were confirmed by the Speaker of the National Assembly.

The Speaker, they stated, informed the nation about that fact through the Tanzania Broadcast Corporation (TBC).

Before he was flown outside the country, Lissu was attending the hearing of his case and had never jumped bail before during the continuation of the trial.

In his counter affidavit, Mr Wankyo notes some arguments stated by the sureties in their joint affidavit, but counters that Lissu jumped court bail from the date he recovered and discharged from hospital and that the sureties had knowledge of his whereabouts since it was publicised.

He stated further that the sureties for the ex-MP were strictly bound to secure his attendance in court of law as per the court order dated January 20, 2020.

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