Tanzania: Mbowe Petitions High Court to Censure Arrest

Freeman Mbowe, the chairman of Tanzanian opposition party Chadema.

Dar es Salaam — The chairman of the leading opposition Chadema, Mr Freeman Mbowe, has petitioned the High Court to declare his arrest and arraignment over unbailable terrorism and economic sabotage charges unconstitutional.

In the constitutional petition filed in Dar es Salaam on Monday, Mr Mbowe says his arrest and subsequent charging in court grossly violated his rights protected by the constitution.

The outspoken opposition leader was arrested from his hotel room in Mwanza on July 21 amid renewed campaigns by his party to push for a new constitution.

He was transported to Dar es Salaam the following day, taken to his residence at Mikocheni where he was searched before he was remanded at Oysterbay Police Station until July 26 when he was arraigned at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court.

"The search was conducted in a manner that was indecent and calculated to inflict maximum humiliation and mental torture, both to me and my family," says Mr Mbowe in a sworn affidavit to support his petition.

At Oysterbay Police Station, he says: "I was subjected to further verbal abuse, and was made to sleep on a Spartan remand room without any amenities such that I slept on the bare floor."

Respondents in the petition are the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Attorney General, who government's chief legal adviser.

Through his lawyer, Peter Kibatala, Mr Mbowe says the DPP and the IGP violated his constitutional rights under section 29 (1) of the Economic and Organized Crimes Control Act and Article 13 (6) (a) (b) and (d) by holding him in custody in deplorable conditions, including making him sleep on a concrete floor without any amenities for five days.

He further contended that the IGP and DPP, together with the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court violated his constitutional rights by failing to notify him in writing that he was to be charged with serious offences and by wilfully failing to afford him with opportunity and facilities to communicate with his lawyers or relatives.

"The petitioner was denied even an access to a copy of the relevant charge sheet until the same was procured at great difficulty by his lawyers on July 27, 2021," says Mr Mbowe's lawyer. He has sought a declaration that the DPP and IGP violated his constitutional rights by holding him in custody in deplorable conditions against section 29 (1) of the Economic and Organised Crimes Control Act and Article 13 (6) (a), (b) and (d) of the constitution designed to prevent abuse of a suspect at a police station.

"I feel condemned already, and in fact I am convinced that the entire proceedings are carefully designed to persecute me. If the police and the court cannot meet the basic standards of criminal process from the outset, there is no reasonable expectation that I will have a fair trial," argues Mr Mbowe.

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