Freeman Mbowe, Tanzania’s Opposition Leader Appears in Court on Terrorism Charges

Freeman Mbowe, the Tanzania’s leader of opposition appeared before the court on Friday 7th/08/2021 on terrorism charges.

A court in Tanzania charged Mbowe who is the leader of the main opposition party with terrorism-related crimes on Monday according to Tanzanian police force.

Freeman Mbowe, head of the Chadema party, and 10 others were detained in the city of Mwanza on Wednesday, in what the party said was proof that President Samia Suluhu Hassan was continuing with the authoritarianism of her late predecessor John Magufuli.

His supporters denounced it as a politically-motivated move to silence dissent and called for protests, claiming it’s a legal challenge to charges of terrorism filed against him early this week.

Mbowe, 59, arrived at the court in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, transported in a green van from the prison.

It was the first time Freeman Mbowe to be seen in public since his arrest along with other members of his Chadema party on July 21, just hours before they were to hold a public forum on constitutional reform.

Security was tight and police prevented most opposition supporters from entering the court.

Mbowe has been charged with terrorism financing and conspiracy in a case that has triggered concern among rights groups and Western nations about the state of democracy under Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The case against Mbowe and three other co-defendants was adjourned until August 13 as prosecutors want it to be handled by a higher court according to prosecutor Pius Hilla.
Mbowe had initially been due to appear in court via video link from prison on Thursday but the case was postponed to Friday because of connection problems, Kibatala said.

On Thursday, riot police had broken up a demonstration by his supporters who were waving banners “Mbowe is not a terrorist” and “Free Freeman Mbowe”, and according to Chadema many were arres

Defence lawyer Peter Kibatala said that they had expected initial procedures to be completed at Friday’s session.
“I would urge they make it quick to protect rights of the accused and the fact that Mbowe’s case is of public interest. I hope we will move a step forward when we come to court next week so that hearing starts at the High Court.”

Other opposition parties expressed solidarity with Mbowe, and urged Hassan to have the case dropped.

“Moments like this take Tanzania a step backwards… the president’s wisdom is needed so that we move forward,” said James Mbatia, leader of the NCCR-Mageuzi opposition party, and one of the few supporters allowed inside the courtroom.

Kibatala said Thursday the charges against Mbowe “have no basis in law,” describing them as “opportunistic and probably politically motivated.”

Mbowe had initially been due to appear in court via video link from prison on Thursday but the case was postponed to Friday because of connection problems, Kibatala said.

Jolliebest Kasajja

Jolliebest Kasajja is a Ugandan Photo Journalist, Influencer, Photo and Videographer, News Editor and a critic in African Politics

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