Zambia’s leading opposition leader on Tuesday appeared in a court in Lusaka, the country’s capital, for mention and explanation of a treason charge amidst tight security since his arrest last week.
Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), who was arrested last week and charged with treason, was brought to court in the early hours of Tuesday while the court premises were surrounded by heavy police presence.
Security is tight at the court premise with police in full riot gears surrounding the premises while others were visible in nearby places.
He appeared to be in good health as he entered the courtroom and flashed his party symbol but he refused to take a seat in protest against how he has been treated since his arrest.
However, his lawyers and senior party officials were kept in the dark on whether he would appear in court until mid-morning, a senior party official told Xinhua.
Magistrate Greenwell Malumani struck out one charge of obstruction but read out three charges to the opposition leader and five other co-accused.
Among the charges included that the opposition leader prepared and endeavored to overthrow by unlawful means the government of President Edgar Lungu between October 2016 and April 8, 2017, disobeyed orders to give way to Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade and use of offensive language against the police.
The opposition leader said he understood the charge but did not take plea.
His lawyers raised a number of preliminary issues in court such as the conduct of the police when they went to arrest him whereby they discharged teargas in a room in which he was hiding with his family.
The lawyers have also submitted that he should be allowed to seek independent medical services, be allowed visitors, be allowed to interact and inform his lawyers in privacy as well as be allowed reading materials.
The courtroom was packed with his supporters and sympathizers who included his wife, Mutinta, opposition leaders Nevers Mumba, Mike Mulongoti and Charles Milupi among others.
Outside the court premises, his supporters sang solidarity songs while the police kept vigil. Enditem