Dar es Salaam. The High Court of Tanzania (Corruption and Economic Crimes Division) ruled here on Friday that CHADEMA national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe and his three other co-accused have a case to answer in the terrorism and money laundering charges they face.
In an unprecedented development of case No. 16/2021 today, the presiding judge Joachim Charles Tiganga ruled that the general evidence brought against Mr Mbowe together with Halfan Hassan, Adam Kasekwa and Mohamed Lingwenya was sufficient enough to let the case proceed.
“The court, therefore, informs the accused that they can bring forward their defence and even witnesses or they can choose to stay quiet,” Judge Tingatinga told the courtroom that was packed to the brim. “If they [choose to] defend themselves under oath, the prosecution will cross-examine them. If they keep quiet, the court will rule.”
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. Both Mr Mbowe and the three other accused have denied all charges.
Today’s ruling comes hardly a day after CHADEMA deputy national chairperson Mr Tundu Lissu pleaded with President Samia Suluhu Hassan to instruct the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to withdraw the case, calling it an important step towards reconciling with the country’s political actors.
Mr Lissu made the request when he was meeting with the Head of State in Belgium where the Tanzanian leader has been touring for an official visit. Asked by the German broadcaster DW if she would pursue that path, Samia said the matter was in the court and the law interpreting body would rule over it accordingly.
Given Friday’s ruling, it now means that Mr Mbowe and his fellow co-accused will be defending themselves, guided by their legal team, a process that starts immediately.