Saturday, March 6, 2021

Botswana presidents face illegal executions scandal

Botswana past presidents; Sir Seretse Khama, Quett Masire, Festus Mogae and current President Ian Khama may have executed tens of murder accused illegally.

This emerged this week during an exchange of letters between the Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme and Martin Dingake of Dingake law partners who are representing a death row inmate, Patrick Gabaakanye.

In a letter from the Attorney General stamped “secret” dated 26th August and addressed to Dingake, the Attorney General revealed that, “ the Committee on the prerogative of Mercy does not, as a matter of practice convene unless a petition for mercy has been received.”

Sunday Standard investigations have however established that the Constitution of Botswana makes it mandatory for the President to convene the committee on the Prerogative of Mercy to review the case of anyone who has been convicted for murder and make a determination before the death row inmate can be executed.

States Section 55(1) of the Constitution: “Where any person has been sentenced to death for any offence, the President shall cause a written report of the case from the trial judge, together with such other information derived from the record of the case or elsewhere as he or she may require, to be considered at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy; and after obtaining the advice of the Committee he or she shall decide whether to exercise any of his or her powers under section 53 of the Constitution.”

Indications, however suggests that the Attorney General and the Country’s presidents were relying on the wrong provisions of the Constitutions which addresses cases other than those of capital punishment.

The Court of Appeal in July confirmed Gabaakanye’s death sentence. He later instructed his attorney, Martin Dingake to approach President Khama to grant him the prerogative of mercy.

Dingake then wrote to the Attorney General asking to be provided with the rules and procedures for the Prerogative of Mercy Committee.

Although the Constitution mandates President Khama to convene the Advisory Committee of the Prerogative of Mercy to review Gabaakanye’s case, the Attorney General insisted that the president will not convene the committee unless he was petitioned by lawyers acting for Gabaakanye.

“I would advise therefore that it would be in the best interest of your client if you devoted your efforts towards preparing his petition to his Excellency, so that the Committee may convene to consider it”, stated the Attorney General in his “Secret” letter to Dingake.

The Attorney General on Thursday, however, made an undertaking that death row inmate; Patrick Gabaakanye will not be executed pending a court decision on an application he has filed. The undertaking came after Gabaakanye’s lawyers, Dingake and Joao Salbany of Bayford’s and Associates filed an urgent application with the High Court to stop president Khama from signing his warrant of execution.

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