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Cop gets 12 years for July 20 killings

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The High Court in Lilongwe has sentenced a police officer to 12 years imprisonment for killing a Lilongwe-based resident in violence that erupted after July 20 2011 anti-government demonstrations.

Constable Stewart Lobo was on October 4, 2016 convicted of the offence of murder ing George Thekere, a day after the demonstrations, in Chilinde Township.

Judge Chifundo Kachale delivered the sentence yesterday on behalf of Judge Fiona Mwale.

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Kachale said although Thekere was not the target, Lobo, as a police officer was careless, in shooting in a residential area.

“In a case in which a police officer was accused of shooting a lorry driver, and causing death to two other people, the officer was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. In this case 12 years is also appropriate. The court, therefore, sentences the convict to 12 years imprisonment with hard labour,” Kachale said.

The case, which Mwale cited is a 2008 one in which initially four police officers were accused of unlawfully causing the death of Yusuf Abdullah, who was a lorry driver, Emmanuel Philemon Waziri and Patricia Montiti in Lilongwe. Only one police officer was convicted of the charge.

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Lobo, through lawyers from the Legal Aid Bureau, had pleaded for a shorter sentence while the state, through lawyers from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office, asked the court to mete out a sentence of not less than eight years.

Lawyer Tione Namanja, has been representing the state, while Clemence Chamwenda has been representing Lobo in the final stages of the case.

In her judgement, Mwale concluded that Lobo was responsible for the death of Thekere even though the target was a young man, John Mpambiche.

“For all I have argued above, I find the accused person, No. A7197 Constable Stewart Lobo guilty of the offence of murder of George Thekere on 21 July 2011 and accordingly convict him of the offence,” reads part of the judgement.

Lobo, who was working at Kawale Police Station, was found with a case to answer in May 2015.

He was arrested in May 2013, alongside three other police officers: Sub Inspector Kamwala (then working at Lumbadzi Police Station), Sergeant Makokezi (then working at Police Mobile Service C Company in Lilongwe) and Sergeant Ian Kanyama (then working at Mchinji Police).

The arrests of the four preceded five other arrests which were made in Blantyre.

Twenty people died during July 20, 2011 protests.

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