Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane appeared before the court in Maseru on Monday on charges of his former wife’s murder, reported Reuters.
The 80-year-old had been due to appear on Friday but had not appeared, as he went to neighboring South Africa for medical treatment. The no-show at the court prompted police to warn they could even issue an arrest warrant.
Thabane’s estranged wife Lipolelo was shot dead two days before his inauguration for a second term as prime minister. He is suspected of involvement in the murder of his wife, two months before he married his current wife, Maesaiah.
In the Lesotho court on Monday, Magistrate Phethise Motanyane ruled that Thabane will not be charged with murder and attempted murder until a constitutional question. The ruling came after the legal team convinced the magistrate to refer the matter to the High Court as the prime minister may have immunity from prosecution. The case has now been referred to the High Court, which will be sitting as the Constitutional Court when it hears the case with a panel of at least three judges.
Mr. Thabane’s current wife Maesiah has already been charged with murder and attempted murder of the former first lady Lipolelo and a friend. Police allege Maesaiah hired eight assassins to kill her but was not present at the shooting. She is currently out on bail and is yet to enter a plea. Both deny any involvement.
According to the Lesotho police, eight other suspects will also be charged over their links to the case, but their names have not yet been made public.
Mr. Thabane would be the first African leader to be charged with domestic murder while in office. Last week, he announced that he would step down in July, resisting pressure from his own party to leave the office immediately.