Lawyer argues that Thomas Thabanes office gives him immunity from prosecution
Lesothos prime minister has made a surprise appearance in court, where his lawyer argued that his office granted him immunity from prosecution for allegedly murdering his estranged wife shortly before he took power.
Thomas Thabane sat in the public gallery of the court in Maseru, the capital of the small mountain kingdom, with his present spouse. He had been due to appear on Friday to be charged with murder, but had not appeared, saying he had to travel to neighbouring South Africa for medical treatment.
His lawyer, Qhalehang Letsika, argued on Monday that the murder charge against a sitting prime minister raised a significant constitutional issue that needed to be resolved before charges could be read against his client. The magistrate, Phethise Motanyane, agreed to refer the case to a higher court.
Lipolelo Thabane, 58, was shot several times at close range as she sat in a car near her home, two days before husbands inauguration in 2017. She had reportedly refused a divorce and won a court battle to retain her privileges as first lady until any formal separation.
Thomas Thabane remarried two months after her death. His current wife, Maesaiah, 42, was charged with murder this month after briefly fleeing the country. Both deny any wrongdoing and sat impassively through the hearing.