8 March 2019

Tanzania: Chadema Politicians Finally Freed On Bail

Dar es Salaam/ Morogoro. The court in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro granted bail to the main opposition leader Freeman Mbowe, three other lawmakers and seven other party members after turning down the Republic's objections.

Mr Mbowe and Ms Esther Matiko (Chadema-Tarime Urban) have been in custody since November 28, last year after Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court decided that the two should be detained for allegedly jumping bail.

Chadema chairman Mbowe and the party's Women Wing (Bavicha) treasurer Matiko, along with seven other party members were arrested in February, last year, accused of various charges, including sedition, incitement and holding an illegal rally.

They were, however, released on bail later that year before their bail was cancelled after they failed to appear for court proceedings.

The two, who spent three months behind bars, appealed to the Court of Appeal to have their bail reinstated, something which was granted yesterday. The ruling was delivered by Judge Sam Rumanyika.

Reading the ruling, Justice Rumanyika said the Kisutu Residen Magistrate's Court had erred in cancelling bail for Chadema leaders without compliance with legal requirements.

Justice Rumanyika said it is a legal requirement that cancellation of bail for an accused person must come after confiscation of bond by sureties in case the accused jumps bail. He said before a court cancelled bail it is a pre-requisite of the law that a surety must be given an opportunity to explain himself why his bond should not be confiscated.

According to the judge, even after confiscation of the bond, the court can only cancel bail if the surety fails to show up in court in absence of the accused.

"Considering the fact that sureties in this case had never given reason why their bond should be confiscated, the decision to cancel bail was not only wrong but also premature," said the judge.

Earlier on the day, Morogoro Resident Magistrate's Court released on bail Kilombero and Mlimba constituency Members of Parliament on Chadema ticket, Mr Peter Lijualikali, and Ms Suzan Kiwanga respectively as well as six other party members after turning down state objection. The decision was made yesterday by the court, noting that the arguments were not sufficient to deny bail to the suspects.

The accused were arrested on February 25, this year shortly after reporting at the Morogoro Main Police Station, responding to a police call. They are accused of setting on fire a police station in Sofi Village, Malinyi District in Morogoro Region in 2017.

However, their charges were thrown out by the court in January, 2019. The state filed fresh charges towards the end of February.

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