Monday, November 17, 2008


The president of Swaziland’s People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Mario Masuku was charged today (17 November 2008) with terrorism and remanded in police custody.

The news agency AFP reported that Masuku, made no plea at the magistrates’ court in Siteki, about 180 kilometres (115 miles) east of the Swazi capital Mbabane.

It had been widely expected that Masuku would be charged with being in possession of weapons-making materials.

However, the BBC reported that at the court hearing there was no mention of that accusation.

The BBC reported that Masuko was charged with making statements ‘suggesting that attempted bombings against government structures should continue’.

Masuku’s case will come up on 24 November at the High Court of Swaziland. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Masuku’s arrest came on Saturday one day after Swaziland’s illegally appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini branded four ‘political formations, including PUDEMO, as terrorist organisations. This allowed the state to arrest suspects under the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2008. Masuku was the first to be taken in by police, but it is widely expected among Swaziland’s pro-democracy movement that more arrests will follow.

The BBC reported that Swazi Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini said the groups targeted under the new law were ‘associated with terrorist acts’.

Majahenkhaba Dlamini said he would not talk further about the evidence, but denied the law was being used to silence critics.

‘The idea is not to punish eminent political opponents, it is to punish entities and persons involved in terrorist acts,’ he told the BBC.

Masuko has been campaigning for multi-party politics for many years. He was acquitted on treason charges in 2002, after allegedly calling for the overthrow of the monarchy.

See also


No comments: