Lesotho drops murder charges against ex-PM

Thabane resigned as prime minister in May 2020, giving in to then mounting pressure to step down over the case. 

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Thabane, 83, was accused of hiring hitmen to kill Lipolelo in June 2017

Lesotho on Tuesday dropped murder charges against the country’s former prime minister Thomas Thabane and his wife over the 2017 killing of his previous estranged wife Lipolelo.

Prosecutors told a court hearing in the capital Maseru the decision was taken as they could no longer locate a key witness in the case.

“We have been unable to trace an important witness in this matter and the (Director of Public Prosecutions) has decided to withdraw the charges against the accused,” prosecutor Gareth Lappan told the court.

Thabane, 83, was accused of hiring hitmen to kill Lipolelo in June 2017, two days before the prime minister’s inauguration.

The pair had been embroiled in bitter divorce proceedings. 

Both the former premier and his current wife Maesaiah, whom he married two months after Lipolelo was killed, have denied any involvement in the murder.

The killing sparked a political crisis in the mountain kingdom landlocked within South Africa.

Thabane resigned as prime minister in May 2020, giving in to then mounting pressure to step down over the case. 

The decision to drop charges came a week after the instability-plagued country announced it will hold general elections in October.

Police accused Thabane of paying assassins a down payment of $24,000 to kill his wife. 

Five co-defendants in the trial included 45-year-old Maesaiah, who was controversially granted bail in June 2020, and the four suspected hitmen allegedly hired by Thabane.

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