Dar es Salaam. Opposition party Chadema yesterday said it had legally challenged the prosecution of its chairman Freeman Mbowe, saying his legal rights were violated during arraigning.
Mr Mbowe was charged on Monday with terrorism and conspiracy but Chadema Secretary General John Mnyika said the charges were framed to attack the opposition. Mr Mnyika said arraigning of Mr Mbowe without representation of his lawyers was a violation of his basic legal rights and now they were challenging the case.
“After this violation, the Central Committee of the party directed the party lawyers to challenge this. They have already filed a constitutional case to formally challenge the case,” said Mr Mnyika during a press conference in the city yesterday.
Mr Mnyika also called on the party followers and other Tanzanians to protest nonviolently against the case which he described as attack to democracy, freedom and rights in Tanzania. According to him, the aim of the protests was to press the government to withdraw the case and set Mr Mbowe free.
“Our resolution is that August 5 this year, when Mbowe’s case will be mentioned in court, it will be a day to come out in hundreds to protest against the case,” he said.
He noted that Mr Mbowe was accused of planning to bomb some petrol stations, but he said that there was nowhere in the charge sheet showing which stations were supposed to be bombed and where and how the meetings took place.
“Despite lack of information, they have taken him to court alleging that he was funding terrorist but failed to show how much he funded,” he said.
Mr Mbowe was joined in a case with other people who were charged last year.
Mr Mnyika said the co-accused were Mbowe’s bodyguards whom he said were assaulted, arrested and detained in police custody for two weeks before being charged in court.
He said Mbowe was arrested by Police in July while planning to participate in a forum seeking to demand a new constitution and he remained in custody where later he developed some health complications.
“While in Police custody he had to sleep on the floor for several days at the Oyesterbay Police Station. Mbowe became sick and we posted on our social media that discussions were undergoing to take him to hospital but instead to our puzzlement he was taken to court and charged with money laundering and terrorism. These were read against him in the absence of his family members, lawyers and friends,” he said.
He said that was a major infringement of Mr Mbowe’s rights hence the need to file a case against the case.
“The charge sheet was used as a political weapon by the government to put him in jail knowing fully well that the charges are not bailable especially at this time when he was doing major things for the party and calling for a new constitution,” he said.