Swaziland: Opposition leader arrested under anti-terrorism law

Mario Masuku, President of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has been arrested and charged with contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act, a law that Amnesty International has condemned as violating Swazis’ freedom of expression, association and assembly.

He was arrested while at Luyengo on his way back home after attending the funeral of Sipho Jele, a timber industry worker, who died in prison in the Swazi capital Mbabane this week, after being arrested for wearing a T-shirt of the PUDEMO.

During the funeral, Masuku accused police of killing Jele while in custody. Police said Jele had hanged himself, an explanation Masuku rejected as “absolute nonsense”. “He was brought to the high court on Monday, but on Tuesday morning we learnt that he hanged himself. We do not believe that,” Masuku told AFP.

Police confirmed the arrest of Masuku, saying his utterances during the funeral were in support and promoting an illegal entity, which is against the law in terms of the Act. “After being charged, he was released. Summons will be issued to secure his attendance in court on a later date to be indicated on the summons,” he said.

According to the said Act, a person charged under this subsection shall on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years.

(H/T ICJ)

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