Ruling expected in Tanzanian convict’s rights infringement case

By: LUCAS BARASA

Judgment in a case in which a Tanzanian convicted of armed robbery, Mr Alex Thomas, who is claiming that his basic rights have been infringed by the government, will be delivered Friday.

The ruling will be made at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights permanent seat in Arusha, Tanzania.

The case was heard before the Pan African Court’s seating on December 3, 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in a hearing that coincided with the Court’s Ordinary Session of Judges in Addis.

In 1998, a Tanzanian trial court convicted Thomas of armed robbery, and is currently serving a 30-year sentence at Karanga Central Prison in Kilimanjaro Region.

In May 2009, the Tanzanian Court of Appeal upheld his conviction.

REVIEW OF HIS CASE

The convict has sought for a review of his case but alleged that nothing was forthcoming and thus fundamental violation of his human rights as enshrined in the African Union’s African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Protocol establishing the African Court.

In June 2009, Thomas applied to the African Court to review the appellate decision, claiming that the Tanzanian justice system was unduly delaying in considering his request for a case review.

In his application, Thomas alleged that his trial before the Tanzanian courts suffered from multiple deficiencies.

He claims that the court lacked jurisdiction, because the alleged robbery was committed in Kenya. He argued that the prosecution did not prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, in that the prosecution’s evidence was inconsistent regarding Thomas’ use of a gun and the ownership of the property that was allegedly stolen.

Additionally, Thomas asserts that he was denied his right to be heard, and that he was not provided with defence counsel as required by Tanzania’s constitution.

Thomas is requesting the African Court to quash the Tanzanian trial and appellate courts’ decisions, and to make any order that it finds appropriate, including acquitting and freeing him.

The defendant’s counsels have denied the allegations and have urged the African Court to dismiss the case.

According to the Rules of the African Court, its ruling is final and cannot be appealed.

Up to 31 October, 2015 the Court had received 59 individual applications of which 21 have been finalised. Four applications have been transferred to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The court is composed of eleven judges, nationals of member states of the African Union elected in their individual capacity.

The court meets four times a year in Ordinary Sessions. The Extra-ordinary Sessions are convened by the President or at the request of a majority of the Members of the Court.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION