Tanzania: Attend Court On September 14, Court Tells Lissu

THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam on Thursday described as legally baseless the reasons advanced by former Singida East Member of Parliament (MP) Tundu Lissu over his failure to attend one of the seditious trials he is facing.

Principal Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba directed one of Lissu's sureties, Mr Robert Katula, to inform him that he must show up in court in the next session scheduled for September 14, 2020.

Lissu, who is charged alongside three other people, was required to attend the court session.

However, Mr Katula informed the court that having communicated with him over the matter, Lissu asked him to inform the presiding magistrate that he was in some regions seeking signatures of sponsors as part of the preparations for his presidential bid under the Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) party.

The magistrate was quick to react, "This is none of our business. He was required to be here today. These reasons have no legal basis at all. As his surety, tell him (Lissu) and you must ensure he attends the next court session."

Earlier, Senior State Attorney Wankyo Simon, for the prosecution, informed the court that another accused person, Printer Ismail Mehbood, could not attend the session.

However, his surety presented a sick sheet to show that he was sick. Apart from Lissu and Mehbood, other accused persons charged jointly in the sedition case are two seasoned journalists - Simon Mkina and Jabir Yunus.

The charges they are facing include 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 a seditious publication.

It is alleged that between January 12 and 14, 2016, at an unknown place in the city, Yunus, Mkina and Lissu conspired together to publish a seditious publication.

According to the prosecution, the publication with a title-"Machafuko yaja Zanzibar," in the newspaper namely Mawio dated January 14, 2016.

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 citizens 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, intimidated the people of Tanzania in 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.

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