March 17, 2020 / 1:37 PM / 3 months ago

Lesotho leader's wife's murder trial postponed to April 14

FILE PHOTO: Maesaiah Thabane, wife of Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, appears in court charged with murdering his previous wife two days before he took office in 2017, in Maseru, Lesotho, February 18, 2020. REUTERS/STRINGER/File Photo

MASERU (Reuters) - The wife of Lesotho’s prime minister appeared in court on Tuesday, accused of murdering the premier’s previous wife, but the trial was postponed until April 14 because prosecutors were not ready to proceed with the case.

Maesaiah Thabane was charged with ordering the killing of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife Lipolelo but was released on bail last month.

The case has caused huge political upheaval in Lesotho, an independent kingdom lying in the middle of a South African mountain range, with Thomas Thabane also suspected of being involved in the killing and having appeared in court.

Both Maesaiah and Thomas Thabane have denied any role in Lipolelo’s death.

Flanked by supporters, Maesaiah Thabane appeared relaxed in the courtroom on Tuesday. She did not say anything, and the magistrate adjourned proceedings.

Advocate Puseletso Sekoati told the magistrate that prosecutors were not ready to proceed as four other suspects in Lipolelo’s murder had still not been charged.

“Investigations regarding this matter have been completed by the police, and what is left is for the four other suspects who are in South Africa to be arrested and brought before court to be charged,” Sekoati said.

Maesaiah Thabane’s lawyer, Rethabile Setlojoane, said if she was not indicted by April 14, she would apply for the charges to be dropped.

Lipolelo, then 58, and Thomas Thabane, now 80, had been going through an acrimonious divorce when she was gunned down in June 2017, two days before her husband’s inauguration as prime minister. Thabane and Maesaiah Thabane, now 42, married two months later.

Reporting by Marafaele Mohloboli; Writing by Alexander Winning, Editing by William Maclean

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