17 January 2019

Tanzania: Opposition Leader Freeman Mbowe Falls Ill in Remand Prison

Dar es Salaam — Remanded opposition leader and Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe failed to attend court sessions on Thursday, January 17, 2019, due to illness.

Mr Mbowe and a Member of Parliament (MP) on his party's ticket, Ms Esther Matiko (Tarime Urban) had their bails revoked on November 23, 2018 when the court ordered them remanded.

The Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court's Principal Magistrate, Mr Wilbard Mashauri, said on November 23 that the two were in contempt of court for failing to show up for hearing.

The two, along with seven other Chadema top bras members, are charged with sedition, incitement to violence and holding an 'illegal rally' on February 16 during which police shot dead a 22-year National Institute of Transport (NIT) student, Ms Akwilina Akwiline in a stray bullet as they (the police) sought to break up the rally.

Since being remanded, several attempts to secure their bails have failed and the politicians are now fighting for their release on bail at the Court of Appeal.

When the case came up for mention at Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court on Thursday, January 17, 2019, State Attorney Patrick Mwita told Principal Resident Magistrate Wilbard Mashauri that Mr Mbowe could not attend due to ill health.

"Honorable Magistrate, all the accused persons are present today except for the first defendant who is ill and unable to be brought before the court," he said.

He said the office of the State Attorney was convinced - basing on information from the Prisons Department - that Mr Mbowe was unwell and that he could not attend the case in person.

Magistrate Mashauri adjourned the case to January 31 when it will come up for mention.

In the case, the accused were on Thursday represented by lawyer Hehima Mwasipu.

Other Chadema leaders who stand accused in the case include: secretary-general Vincent Mashinji; deputy secretary-general for Zanzibar, Salum Mwalimu; his Mainland counterpart John Mnyika; Tarime Rural MP, John Heche; Kawe MP Halima Mdee; MP for Bunda Esther Bulaya and Iringa Urban MP Rev Peter Msigwa.

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