Tuesday, January 6, 2009


The Swazi democrat leader Mario Masuku, who was arrested in November 2008 on charges relating to ‘terrorism’, is refusing to ask for bail.

He has been remanded on a weekly basis since his arrest. Police in Swaziland have been so concerned about the public outcry that Masuku’s arrest has caused in the kingdom that they have stopped holding his remand hearings in a public court. This follows a series of protests outside the court in Masuku’s support. Instead, a special court is convened at Matsapha prison where he is being held.

Masuku was arrested the day after Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini declared four political formations, including the people’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), which Masuku heads, to be terrorist organisations. Anyone who is a member or a supporter of these organisations faces up to 25 years in jail.

At first the police accused Masuku of having weapon’s making equipment, but when they found no evidence to support this they changed the charge to making public statements in favour of terrorists. Later they changed the charge again, this time to a more general one of ‘sedition’.

The Swazi Observer reported today (6 January 2008) that Masuku yesterday told the High Court Judge Mabel Agyemang that he doesn’t want to apply for bail. He and his supporters have been pressing for a speedy trial.

Swaziland is notorious for not bringing suspects to trial, especially those accused of ‘offences against the state’. Democrats argue this lack of action is because the police have no real evidence against the accused.

According to the Observer, Masuku’s trial is expected to start before June 2009.

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