June 21, 2017 / 4:38 PM / a month ago

Zambia transfers opposition leader back to a prison in capital

2 Min Read

United Party for National Development (UPND) Presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema looks on during a rally in Lusaka January 18, 2015.Rogan Ward/File Photo

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambian prison authorities on Wednesday transferred an opposition leader who is charged with treason from a maximum security facility back to one in the capital following a court order by a magistrate.

United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema, who is facing treason charges for impeding a motorcade for President Edgar Lungu, had been moved from a prison in Lusaka to the maximum security facility outside the capital on June 9.

Magistrate Ireen Wishimanga said the opposition leader and five others should be moved to a prison near the court while she hears a separate case in which Hichilema wants a minister to be charged with contempt of court for allegedly saying he was in prison because he refused to recognise Lungu as president.

"..the order given by this court... (should) be adhered to until such time when a new one is issued or there will be consequences,” Wishimanga said before a packed court.

Prison warders drove Hichilema and his co-accused to Lusaka Central Prison immediately after the court case.

Hichilema was arrested in April when police raided his home and charged him with trying to overthrow the government, a case which has stoked political tensions in what is regarded as one of Africa's more stable and functional democracies following a bruising election last year.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Toby Chopra

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