Hakainde Hichilema’s co-accused were tortured by police who pepper-sprayed their private parts, making excretion painful, defense lawyers have told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court.
And the defense lawyers have also complained about the manner in which HH was arrested saying it was inhuman.
Meanwhile, the defense lawyers have asked the court to compel police to grant them more time to confer with their clients, given the gravity of the charges.
But magistrate Greenwell Malumani has reserved his ruling on the preliminary issues raised to 15:00 hours today.
When the matter came up today, HH was brought to a fully packed courtroom, alongside his co-accused; Lastone Mulilandumba, Muleya Haachenda, Walace Chakwa, Pretornous Haloba and Hamusonde Hamaleka.
HH’s defense lawyers then raised some preliminary issues; with Jack Mwiimbu telling magistrate Malumani that his clients were tortured by police.
He said that on April 13, his clients were asked to expose their private parts and some masked police officers pepper-sprayed them.
“This has made excretion extremely painful and it is difficult to identify the said officers because they were wearing masks,” Mwiimbu said.
“We would like our clients to have access to medical facilities of their choice so that the extent of the damage caused by the pepper spray can be assessed.”
And defense lawyer Vincent Malambo asked the court to compel police to give them more time to confer with HH.
“We have very limited access to our clients. When we are allowed to see them, we are only allowed 20 minutes and this is not enough given the gravity of the charges. Additionally, we do not have privacy,” Malambo prayed.
He also told the court that it was strange that police allowed a strange pastor to visit HH at midnight when they were restricting family visitations.
Meanwhile, Keith Mweemba asked the court to separate the treason charge from the other two charges as it was a matter which could only be tried by the High Court.
Mweemba also said it was illegal to keep a suspect in custody whilst waiting for a committal certificate from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
At this point, magistrate Malumani asked the prosecution why they decided to merge the treason charge with those of disobeying lawful orders and using insulting language when they knew that the court had no jurisdiction over treason.
The prosecution asked him to guide them on a way forward.
The defense lawyers also asked the court to allow HH some reading materials, a mattress and a blanket saying he was entitled to basic needs as a suspect.
“The punishment on our client should not start before a conviction,” one of the lawyers said.
The prosecution team did not make any objections to the preliminary issues and Magistrate Malumani reserved ruling to 15:00 hours.
Meanwhile, police threw some teargas canisters to disperse some UPND cadres who tried to breach their barricade.