Zanzibar — IRKED by lack of openness during proceedings in a case against Uamsho leaders in Zanzibar, defence lawyers - Salim Tawfik and Abdallah Juma - boycotted a court session yesterday, accusing the police and prosecuting officers of acting under unnecessary secrecy.
"We have been disappointed by the way this case is being handled. We are still miles away from observing human rights, transparency and rule of law to achieve respected judiciary system," the lawyers complained after waiting for hours for the hearing without information on it.
Previously, it had been said that the case involving eight Uamsho Muslim group leaders would be mentioned yesterday at the Mwanakwerekwe District Magistrates' Court in the outskirts of Zanzibar town. But the defendants were driven to Vuga Regional Magistrates' Court while their defence lawyers were in dark about the move. At Vuga the accused were charged with a fresh case.
Appearing before Magistrate George Joseph Kazi, the prosecutor Raya Msellem accused the eight Muslim leaders of sabotage and soliciting, inciting and persuading persons to commit offences and unlawful destruction of public and private property worth 500m/- and conspiracy to Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmad disappearance on October 16, this year.
It is on record that violence and the on-going tension in Zanzibar came after the disappearance of Farid and on reappearance, he claimed to have been abducted by masked armed men who introduced themselves as police officers. Other accused include Msellem Ally Msellem, Mussa Juma Issa, Azzan Khalid Hamdan, Suleiman Juma Suleiman, Khamis Ali Suleiman, Ghalib Ahmad and Hassan Bakar Suleiman, all from Uamsho group.
In addition, Hamdan was accused of making a defamatory statement against the Commissioner of Police - Zanzibar. According to the prosecutor, the offences were conducted on May 26, October 17, 18 and 19, this year. They all denied the charges and the prosecutor successfully blocked bail, citing section 16 of the National Security Act cap.47, revised edition of 2002.
Under tight security, the accused were later driven to Mwanakwerekwe District Court for their first case, but the case could not proceed because their lawyers opted to boycott the session protesting the unnecessary inconveniences.District Magistrate Sabra Ali Mohamed adjourned the case to Wednesday, November 7, this year.
At the District Magistrates' Court the Muslim clerics, leaders of the Uamsho Muslim propagation group were arraigned on charges of incitement, instigating and causing chaos on August 17, this year in Zanzibar. Outside the court and on the streets business was going on well as armed police and Zanzibar security units patrolled the streets and many people were moving around to prepare for today's Eid celebrations.