Defence counsel pray for innocence of the accused
By Rosemary Mirondo
Defence lawyers in the murder case involving former Dar es Salaam Regional Crimes Officer Abdallah Zombe and seven other police officers asked the High Court yesterday not to accept the late Rashid Lema`s confession statement because it lacked collaborating testimony to link his co-accused to the crime.
The allegations were made before Appeal Court Judge Salum Massati during the defence`s final submissions, declaring that the prosecution had failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
The defence therefore asked the court to find their clients not guilty and acquit them in the murder case of three Mahenge miners and a taxi driver.
According to the defence, it was unfortunate that Lema (12th accused) died before he was able to be cross-examined on his confession to prove whether his allegations were false or not.
Zombe`s defence counsel, Jerome Msemwa, told the court that his client was facing a capital offence which could not be proved by accusation from his co-accused that he had given them letters ordering them to lie to the presidential probe committee that the miners had been killed at Sinza Posta and not at Pande forest in Mbezi Luis as it was alleged.
He said the court should not find his client guilty for going to Urafiki police post after the incident to meet with other police officers because there was no malicious intention, adding that he had gone there in answer to a call from Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mantange, who wanted him to help locate the 5m/- that had been found with the miners and was lost.
Msemwa told the court that, according to evidence tendered in court, his client ordered them to locate the money for the good name of the police, which they did by the following morning and thus enabling Zombe to brief the media.
He also asked the court to find his client not guilty for congratulating the police officers for a job well done because he did that after he was briefed by his juniors about the incident.
Msemwa told the court that it should recall its order to the media not to misinform the public, because due to its reporting, many people believed that Zombe was guilty and should be hanged.
``Pilate ordered the death of Jesus Christ due to public pressure only to realise later that he was actually the son of God,`` he said.
Regarding Lema`s confession, he alleged that Lema said he heard Bageni talking on the phone, saying ``Yes boss`` and later he (Bageni) informed him that Zombe had ordered him to `slaughter` the deceased.
Elaborating, he said Bageni refuted the point and therefore there was no collaborating evidence linking Zombe to the crime.
Counsel Gaudionus Ishengoma, for Christopher Bageni, told the court that the case depended on circumstantial evidence because there was no direct evidence linking the accused to the offence.
Elaborating, he said Bageni got reports on the incident from his juniors, who are still at large, that there had been a fire exchange between the miners and the police during their arrest.
He told the court that his client was not in the office on the day of the incident, which was reinforced by prosecution witness Juma Ndaki who said that Bageni went to Urafiki police station to pick exhibits that belonged to the accused at around 7pm.
Ishengoma told the court that the Oyster bay armoury keeper tried to show the court that Bageni had forced Lema to fire bullets in the air a few days after the incident, but when the court visited the area it discovered that it was not possible to fire nine bullets in the area without the public`s knowledge because it was a residential area.
He told the court that it was sad that Lema had passed away before he could be cross examined about his confession therefore leaving doubts about the legality of the confession.
Ishengoma told the court that the prosecution had not been able to link the murder to his client and therefore asked that he be acquitted.
Majura Magafu, for accused Ahmed Makelle, said Jane Mathias, Emmanuel Mabula, Cpl Michael and Cpl Abeneth, were present during the arrest but they went on other official duties after the arrest and therefore could not know what transpired after that.
He said the prosecution was conducting the case like a rat trap to seize anybody in front of them while the actual culprits were still at large.
Denis Msafiri for Rajabu Bakari asked the court not to find his client guilty because he was the only accused who told the court how the killings occurred.
He also told the court that Bakari was a very junior officer and could not prevent the killings of the miners.
Longino Miovero, for Festus Chenge, told the court that his client left the deceased alive to take their car at Urafiki police post.
Judge Massati adjourned the case before it comes again for final submissions.
Zombe and his co-accused are alleged to have killed businessmen Ephraim Chigumbi, Sabinus Chigumbi, Mathias Lukombe and taxi driver Juma Ndugu at Pande Forest near Dar es Salaam on January 14, 2006.