SURETIES for former Singida East legislator Tundu Lissu have thrown the ball to Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe to ensure the embattled politician comes back from Belgium to attend his sedition trial.
Ibrahim Ahmed and Robert Katula told Principal Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam on Monday that they have tried their best to contact Mr Lissu so that he could come back, but their efforts have apparently ended in vain.
"At once, when we reached him, Lissu said he would communicate with the lawyer of the party. A total silence followed thereafter," Mr Katula told the court.
"We have decided to take another initiative by writing to Mr Mbowe, because he is the one, and his party, who allowed him to go to Belgium for treatment," the surety added.
Expounding further on the matter, Mr Katula explained that following the shooting incident involving the former MP, the government of Tanzania recommended that he should be treated at Muhimbili National Hospital, but Mbowe and Chadema sought treatment abroad, initially sending him to Kenya and later on to Belgium.
He said they have written to the Chadema leader to help bring Mr Lissu back to the country to face his charges.
"Once he comes back, we will ensure he attends the trial accordingly. Under these circumstances, we request for another time to facilitate the process," the surety pleaded.
The magistrate granted the request and adjourned the trial to February 20, 2020, but directed the sureties to ensure Mr Lissu attends the next court session.
He warned that the court would be compelled to issue other necessary orders against the sureties and against the accused person as well.
Other accused persons in the case are seasoned journalists Simon Mkina and Jabir Yunus and businessman printer Ismail Mehbood.
They face several charges including; conspiracy to publish a seditious publication, publishing and printing a seditious publication and printing a newspaper without submission of an affidavit.
They are charged with an alternative count of intimidation to the charge of publishing seditious publication.
It is alleged that between January 12 and 14, 2016, at an unknown place in the city, Yunus, Mkina and Lissu conspired to publish a seditious publication.
The prosecution alleged that the said accused persons published the seditious publication on January 14, 2016, in Dar es Salaam, with intent to excite disaffection to the citizen of Zanzibar against lawful authority of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar.
On January 13, 2016, at Jamana House area in Ilala District, Mehbood printed the seditious publication contained in the newspaper for similar purposes and that printed Mawio Newspaper without prior submission of an affidavit to the Registrar of Newspapers.
Yunus, Mkina and Lissu were charged with an alternative count of intimidation to that of publishing seditious publication.
The prosecution told the court that the accused persons committed the offence on January 14, 2016.
It is alleged that wrongfully and without legal authority, the trio having published the article in controversy intimidated the people of Tanzania Zanzibar to refrain from the conduct of the re-run of the Zanzibar General Elections, 2016.
The accused persons, according to the prosecution, had indicated in the article that the re-run of the said elections would lead to an outbreak of war and public unrest, resulting in bloodshed.