24 January 2013

Tanzania: Court Issues Warrant of Arrest for MAT President

THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam ordered the arrest of Dr Namala Mkopi, the President of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT), for his failure to show up when his case came for hearing.

"A warrant of arrest should be issued if he fails to surrender before the court today (yesterday)," the presiding Resident Magistrate, Hellen Riwa, said before adjourning the case for another hearing on February 21.

Earlier, trial attorney Theophil Mutakyawa informed the court that the case had been set for hearing, but requested for postponement of the session to give him time to go through the prosecution file.

"When the case was called for the last time, the file had been taken to the higher authorities. Now, I have been assigned together with another state attorney, to be appointed later, to prosecute this case. I need time to go through the file before I start calling witnesses," Mutakyawa told the court.

The magistrate granted the prosecution's request and, apart from issuing the arrest warrant against the accused, she ordered summonses should be issued to witnesses to ensure the hearing of the case takes off during the forthcoming session.

In the case, Dr Mkopi is facing two counts of disobeying a lawful order and inciting an offence. Such crimes, according to the prosecution, were committed in June, last year, in Dar es Salaam. The prosecution charges that between June 26 and 28, last year, in the city, being the President of MAT, Dr Mkopi disobeyed an order given by the High Court's Labour Division on June 26, last year.

Such order, the prosecution alleges, required the accused to address members of the Association through the media that they were restrained from calling or participating in the strike, as was previously ordered by the same court on June 22, 2012.It is alleged further that on June 27, last year, in the city, Dr Mkopi incited members of the Association to strike contrary to the order of the Court of June 22, last year.

The accused was arraigned for the first time to answer the charges on July 11, last year. He was granted bail after fulfilling bail conditions, including securing two reliable sureties, who signed bonds of 500,000/- each.Medical doctors in public hospitals downed tools to pressure the government to address longstanding issues facing the medical fraternity, particularly poor working conditions.

But, the government had repeatedly said it was ready for dialogue with the doctors and cautioned them against any professional misconduct, including staging a strike.

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