NDOLA principal resident magistrate John Mbuzi says police must allow UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and his vice Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba to attend court sessions freely without intimidation.

This is in a case in which Hichilema and GBM are individually charged with seditious practices and jointly charged with unlawful assembly.

When Hichilema and GBM approached Ibenga today as they were making way to their court appearance in Luanshya, armed police blocked them and started searching and harassing the entourage.

“We are looking for some chaps in here. You are not going; these are instructions. We need to fish out some chaps in here. So everyone should come out,” an officer only identified as Mbewe said.

Mbewe said police were looking for Hichilema’s photographer Brian Mwiinga and Prime TV reporter Kalani Muchima.

But the UPND security resisted, forcing police to fire live ammunition.

After about five minutes, the entourage started off but were stopped again three kilometres into Luanshya town centre.

And when the matter came up for hearing, UPND lawyer Jack Mwiimbu complained that police always escorted his clients out of Luanshya after court proceedings and that they sometimes fired live ammunition in their quest to keep vigil.

“Whenever, there is an adjournment of this matter, our clients have always been moved out of Luanshya by the police and are made to escort them out to the detriments of their rights as citizens,” said Mwimbu.

“It therefore, follows that the accused persons have been failing to make necessary arrangements of their stay on the Copperbelt. The accused persons have now resolved to be commuting from Lusaka. In the process of stopping the accused to come to court, the police had this morning discharged live ammunition. We seek that you protect the rights of the accused persons, they are not convicts. They are innocent until proven guilty by the court so called security arrangements have gone to the extent of violating the rights of our clients.”

In his rulling, magistrate Mbuzi, who was sitting in Luanshya, ordered the police to allow the court operate without interference.

Magistrate Mbuzi said it was undesirable for police not to allow the courts to operate freely and ordered that such police conduct came to an end until the case was concluded.

“On the rights of the accused, [that] is beyond me. It is undesirable for the police not to allow the courts to operate freely,” said magistrate Mbuzi.

“Such conduct should come to an end from today till the end of this case. So I order the police to leave and allow the proceeding to go fairly and freely.”

Mwimbu then applied for an adjournment to reconstitute the defence team.

Trial continues tomorrow, January 18, 2017.