Lusaka Senior Magistrate Greenwell Malumani has reserved ruling on preliminary issues raised by lawyers representing opposition UPND Hakainde Hichilema and his co-accused in the case in which they have been charged with treason.
In adjourning the matter to 26th April, Magistrate Malumani said he could not hurriedly make his ruling on the counter arguments by both Mr. Hichilema’s lawyers and the state in the interest of avoiding traversing the course of justice.
Magistrate Malumani noted that issues of procedural and law have been raised in both counter arguments.
He stated that the fact that the matter has now become complex, he needed time to carefully look at the arguments from both defense lawyers and the state.
Responding to the application by the defense lawyers that the Court orders an investigation into the stranger who visited Mr. Hichilema in the dead of night while in police custody, and that the Court looks into the complaint of torture by three of Mr. Hichilema’s co-accused, the state argued when the matter came up this morning that the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to hear such complaints.
The state contended that the matter before the subordinate Court is there for purposes of mention and recording of the charges, and therefore it cannot respond to the preliminary issues raised by the defence lawyers.
But the defence counter argued that the Magistrate court has jurisdiction to hear and act on a complaint of a case notwithstanding the fact that it cannot try the case before it.
The defence lawyers wondered for whom the Magistrate Court would be recording a matter if it can only hear a complaint from the accused without acting upon it.
Mr. Hichilema’s lawyers have since asked the Magistrate Court to render the response by the state to its preliminary issues as unresponsive.
It was at this point that Magistrate Malumani adjourned the matter to next week for ruling.