June 29, 2020 / 5:25 PM / 13 days ago

Lesotho's former first lady granted bail in murder case

FILE PHOTO: Maesaiah Thabane, wife of Lesotho's former prime minister Thomas Thabane poses for a photograph at the State House in Maseru, Lesotho, February 18, 2020. At the time, her husband was still prime minister. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo

MASERU (Reuters) - Lesotho’s former first lady, charged with the murder of her love rival, was granted bail on Monday, despite objections from the police that she might use it to escape.

Maesaiah Thabane, wife of former prime minister Thomas Thabane, was arrested at the start of this month, after an appeal court revoked her bail on suspicion that procedure was not followed correctly when it was granted.

Forty-three-year-old Maesaiah Thabane has been charged with ordering the killing of his then wife Lipolelo Thabane, who was shot dead near her home in Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, in June, 2017.

She denies any involvement.

When police tried to question her earlier this year, she left the mountainous kingdom for neighbouring South Africa.

“The petitioner has fled before and is likely to do so again. She is also very dangerous and has resources she can use to hire hitmen to interfere and eliminate the witnesses,” Lesotho’s Deputy Police Commissioner Paseka Mokete said in his objection to the decision.

Lipolelo was estranged from Thomas Thabane at the time of the murder. He became prime minister two days after the killing and he married Maesaiah a month later. He is also a suspect but denies any involvement and has yet to be formally charged.

Reporting by Marafeale Mohloboli,; Writing by Tim Cocks, editing by Ed Osmond

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