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Tanzanian Judge Overseeing Mbowe’s Terrorism Case Withdraws

It follows reports that the judge has been strategically appointed to oversee the case, something that the defendants in the case fear that he might have been compromised.

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Dar es Salaam. High Court judge Elinazer Luvanda who was overseeing a terrorism case against CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe and three others at the court’s Corruption and Economic Crimes Division has withdrawn from the case on Monday following a protest from defendants that they do not have confidence in the presiding judge.

Mr Mbowe told Judge Luvanda today, September 6, 2021, when his case was brought for hearing, that he and his co-accused do not have confidence that the latter will oversee a fair trial in the highly sensitive case that the fifty-nine-year-old opposition figure is facing. The case has been postponed until further notice to pave way for a replacement.

Mr Mbowe was brought before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court for the first time on July 26, 2021, accused of taking part in conspiracies to blow up fueling stations and other public gatherings as well as funding terrorist acts before his case was transferred to the High Court.

He was arrested in Mwanza together with eleven other CHADEMA cadres — who have since been released — ahead of a New Constitution conference that BAVICHA had called and which Mr Mbowe was expected to be the guest of honour. Others in the case No. 16/2021 are Halfan Hassan, Adam Kasekwa and Mohamed Lingwenya.

Monday’s development took place against the background of unconfirmed reports by exiled journalist Ansbert Ngurumo that Judge Luvanda has been strategically appointed to oversee the case in order to make sure that Mr Mbowe is found guilty of the charges levelled against him and his co-accused.

According to the history of Judge Luvanda’s service at the High Court compiled by Mr Ngurumo, the judge has overseen a number of cases brought against opposition politicians by the government or cases filed against government officials.

In 2019, for example, Judge Luvanda was among the team of three judges who oversaw the case filed by ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe against Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai and Attorney General urging the High Court to protect the former Controller and Auditor General (CAG) Prof Mussa Assad who was summoned to appear before the parliamentary committee to be questioned over his weak parliament remarks.

In 2020, Judge Luvanda was one of the three judges who oversaw a case filed by ACT-Wazalendo Secretary-General Ado Shaibu against then-President John Magufuli, which protested the appointment of Aderladus Kilangi as Tanzania’s Attorney General.

In 2021, Judge Luvanda was also a part of the team of three judges who heard a constitutional case filed by former Iringa Urban MP, Peter Msigwa and former Mbeya Urban MP, Joseph Mbilinyi (Sugu) – both from CHADEMA – against Commissioner General of Prisons and the Attorney General to protest the violation of their basic constitutional rights while serving sentences handed down by Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court and Mbeya Magistrate Court.

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