High Court in Lilongwe has ordered Maxwell Namata and Luke Kasamba who have been charged with theft and money laundering in the ongoing Capital Hill Cashgate trials, to defend themselves.
The two businessmen pleaded not guilty to the two counts that they stole K24 million from government and proceeded to use the proceeds for their personal use.
Justice Annabel Mtalimanja however was convinced with prosecution led by Kamudoni Nyasulu and Reyneck Matemba that the two have a case to answer.
The Court has given them up to first week of August to enter defence.
Earlier in the case, lawyers Ralph Kasambara and Wapona Kita, representing Namata wanted the court to order that the State vary the charges against their clients because of duplicity.
Nyasulu argued that the first offence of theft was committed before the second offence of money laundering and they contained different elements.
“The fact that the same amount stolen is subject of the same offence of money laundering does not make it one and the same offence,” Nyasulu argued.
But Kita further submitted on the point of wording of charges which he argued would not accord his clients fair trial as they would not understand the charges against them.
However, High Court judge Annabel Mtalimanja said the accused persons could not dictate how they should be charged, but could only demand that the charges be framed according to applicable procedure but with the right to fair trial.
Justice Mtalimanja concluded the charges were clear and there was no duplicity in charging the accused on two separate counts of theft and money laundering.
Kasamba is being represented by lawyer Gift Nankhuni who told the court that his client would have four or five witnesses in defence against the charge of money laundering.
This is the first case in the High Court in relation to the 2013 siphoning of government money dubbed Cashgate which has advanced to this stage.
Government cheques amounting to K15 million (US$36 496.4) and K9 million (US$21 897.8) were paid to a company, Cross Marketing, in which Namata and Kasamba are directors when they had not rendered any service to government.
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