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Former ruler charged over murder of aid worker

The former military ruler of Lesotho, Major-General Elias Phisoane Ramaema, has been charged with the murder of a veteran Irish aid volunteer who was stabbed to death on 21 January, a spokesman for the Irish consulate told IRIN on Wednesday.

Ramaema, who handed power to a civilian government in 1993, is in prison facing robbery and murder charges, after a four-wheel drive vehicle belonging to the humanitarian worker, Ken Hickey, was found in his possession with number plates substituted for those of the general’s car.

His daughter-in-law and a son later turned themselves in to police after Hickey’s keys and mobile telephone were also found in the family home.

The spokesman said Hickey, 75, the father of two sons and a daughter, was ambushed about 10:00 p.m. on 21 January as he returned home after a meeting with the Irish Consul-General in the Capital, Maseru.

A qualified engineer, he has worked in Lesotho for seven years as a volunteer with the Irish Agency for Personnel Service (APSA). After previous assignments in Egypt and Malawi, he was helping with the construction of footbridges in the Southern African mountain kingdom.

Paul O’Donoghue, development attache at the Irish consulate in Maseru paid tribute to the efficient way in which the police and the government had handled the case in which a total of eight people, including the general, had so far been arrested.

“It is very, very sad. A man of such great age was no threat to anybody. We fear that if his death is forgotten it will make volunteer workers and humanitarian staff easy prey in the future,” said O’Donoghue. “We have had over 20 years in Lesotho which is one of our six priority countries for development aid.”

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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