THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam has adjourned for the last time the trial of 27 supporters and members of Chadema facing criminal charges.
Principal Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi granted the last opportunity to the prosecution after it failed to call witnesses so that the hearing of the case could commence as planned.
Senior State Attorney Mkunde Mshanga earlier informed the court that the hearing session could not commence on two reasons, including absence of a witness who had been lined up to testify in the session.
According to her, the intended witness got an emergence and could not manage to attend the session.
The second reason, she said, related to the failure by two accused persons to show up.
However, the submissions made by the prosecution sparked strong reactions from defence advocates, led by Edson Kilata, Emmanuel Ikashu and Peter Kibatala, who were of the view that the reasons advanced were soft to justify the postponement of the trial.
The advocates told the court that the absence of some accused persons, Mshewa Karua and Reginald Masawe, was not an issue as the law, in particular, Criminal Procedure Act, sets clearly the procedure to be followed under such circumstance, which included conducting the hearing in their absence.
They, therefore, invited the court to take the judicial notice and compel the prosecution to be serious to ensure justice is done to both parties. The magistrate adjourned the proceeding to May 5, 2021, insisting that that was last adjournment.
The prosecution side risks losing the case if it fails to bring the witness in the next court session as the court may dismiss the charges and discharge the accused persons in respect of the offences they are charged with.
In the trial, the other accused persons are Chadema Special Seats MPs Halima Mdee and Ester Bulaya, former Ubungo Municipal Mayor Boniface Jacob, exlawmaker Jesca Kishoa, Henry Kilewo, Patrick Assenga, Yohana Kaunya, Kedmony Mhembo and Mshewa Karua.
Others are Athuman Hassan, Gervas Yenda, Angela Tryphone, Khadija Mwago, Cesilia Michael, Happy Abdallah, Omary Milodo, Emanuel Ignas Temu, Stephen Kitomali, Hamis Yusuph, Juma Hussein, Mustafa Lada, Emmanuel Zakaria, Paul Makali, Steven Ezekiel, Edga Adeline, Reginard Masawe and Pendo Raphael, alias Mwasomola.
They are charged with disobedience of lawful order, unlawful assembly, malicious damage of government property, uttering abusive words and assault, offences which are alleged to have been committed on March 13, 2020 at Segerea Prison in Ilala District in the City of Dar es Salaam.
The accused persons are suspected to have been involved in the matter when they went to receive the party's National Chairman Freeman Mbowe, who was freed on the material day after managing to pay the fine amounting to 70m/- imposed on him by the same court for sedition, incitement and unlawful assembly charges.
It is alleged that on March 13, 2020 at Segerea Prison within Ilala District in the city, all accused persons disobeyed an order issued by Prison Officer Sergeant John that required them to disperse peacefully and vacate the prison area.