Lesotho PM misses court date over wife's death

MASERU, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane had not turned up for a court appearance over his wife's death two hours after the hearing was meant to start on Friday, and police said they were unsure of his whereabouts.

Thabane was due in court at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) over the death of Lipolelo Thabane, who was shot dead in June 2017 near her home in the capital Maseru two days before he took office.

But by 11 a.m., Thabane was not at the court.

"I'm still trying to confirm his whereabouts and whether or not he will show up. We don't know," Deputy Police Commissioner Paseka Mokete said.

Thabane's current wife, Maesaiah Thabane, has already been charged with ordering Lipolelo's murder but is currently out on bail. Police said on Thursday that the prime minister would also be charged with murder.

The love triangle murder case has stunned the southern African kingdom, a mountainous state of 2 million people encircled by South Africa with a long history of political instability.

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Reuters could not reach Thabane's office for comment.

The prime minister told local radio on Thursday that he would step down at the end of July, but he did not mention his wife's death and cited old age instead.

Both Maesaiah and Thomas Thabane, who married two months after Lipolelo's killing, have denied any involvement in her death. (Reporting by Tim Cocks Writing by Alexander Winning Editing by Ros Russell)

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