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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 13:28 GMT
Swazi sedition trial begins
Mario Masuku
Masuku pleads not guilty to all charges
By Bhekie Matsebula in Mbabane

Swaziland's main opposition leader, Mario Masuku, of the banned political party, the People's United Democratic Front (Pudemo) has pleaded not guilty to two charges of sedition against him.

The long awaited trial in the capital's High Court was filled with about 300 of Mr Masuku's supporters wearing yellow, green and black scarves.

The state prosecutor is accusing Mr Masuku of sedition for demanding an end to the reign of Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati III and for allegedly inciting revolution.

Mr Masuku, aged 51, faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

Mr Masuku's attorney, Mr Piet Ebersohn, moved an application that all the charges be withdrawn against his client because they were faulty.

Application dismissed

But Presiding Judge Josia Matsebula dismissed the defence argument that charges be struck off because the translation of a speech from SiSwati into English had been faulty.

King Mswati III
Masuku is accused of calling for an end to the king's rule

Mr Masuku allegedly made the comments calling for the ousting of King Mswati during a pro-democracy rally in South Africa in November 2000.

The state prosecutor, Lincoln N'garua pleaded with Judge Josiah Matsebula to ban the media from repeating Mr Masuku's exact words claiming that that would be tantamount to repeating the same alleged seditious statements to the Swazi nation.

But Judge Matsebula advised journalists to stick to their ethical code of conduct.

See also:

04 Feb 02 | Africa
Standing up to Swaziland's king
04 Dec 01 | Africa
Profile: Troubled King Mswati
12 Dec 01 | Africa
Concern for jailed Swazi leader
25 Jun 01 | Africa
Anger at Swazi media decree
28 Sep 01 | Africa
Swazi king takes eighth wife
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Swaziland
14 Nov 01 | Africa
Swazi tussle over virgin tassels
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