Bail application hearing for convicted former Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Raphael Kasambara failed to commence on Monday after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mary Kachale accused Supreme Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Dunstain Mwaungulu of biasness.
Kasambara currently serving a 13-year sentence at Zomba Central Prison for conspiring to murder former budget director Paul Mphwiyo together with Macdonald Kumwembe and Pika Manondo is challenging his prison term. It’s now eight months now since he was incarcerated.
Through his hired lawyers Modeccai Msiska, Senior Counsel (SC), and Wanangwa Hara, Kasambara is arguing among other points that he is unlikely to abscond bail as he is a Malawian citizen with assets in the country and that he has a right to bail pending appeal subject only to interest of justice, claiming that prior authorities connecting bail pending exceptional circumstances are erroneous.
But the hearing scheduled for Supreme Court of Appeal in Blantyre failed to commence when the the top prosecutor argued the State were not given enough time to prepare their arguments aside from questioning the presiding judge, Justice Mwaungulu’s impartiality.
Kachale demanded the judge to recuse himself, arguing that he is prone to be biased in his verdict.
Her surprising accusations followed a grilling by the judge on her lack of preparedness despite holding a high public office.
Justice Mwaungulu said was baffled with Kachale’s lack of preparedness after she apologised to the court for being unprepared and incoherent, claiming she was served with Kasambara’s skeleton arguments two days prior to the hearing instead of the required seven days.
Meanwhile, Judge Mwaungulu has since adjourned the case to Wednesday next week (April 12th) when he will announce on whether he will continue presiding over the case in the wake of Kachale’s accusations.
Mwaungulu adjourned the case to also to give the State more time to prepare and fill counter arguments.
Judiciary spokesman Mlenga Mvula has bemoaned Kachale’s accusations, saying such sentiments underrate the integrity and independence of the country’s judicial system.
In affidavits in support of the bail application, Kasambara argues that he has a permanent residence and strong ties within the jurisdiction of the court, that when granted bail previously, they did not evade trial and complied with all relevant conditions.
“They have no contemporary legal support. Both the Constitution and the Supreme Court of Appeal Act [the SCA] frown upon these authorities,” reads his affidavit.
Among the arguments are that prior to his conviction, Kasambara was practicing law (SC) and running a business.
During the mitigation before sentencing at High Court, Msiska further stated that the court needed to reflect on the services Kasambara had rendered to the nation both as a private-practice lawyer as well as minister and Attorney General (AG) before the commission of the crime.
Mphwiyo’s shooting outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on the night of September 13 2013 is widely believed to have led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capitol Hill.
Former president Joyce Banda ordered an audit undertaken by British forensic audit firm, RSM (formley Baker Tilly), covering the period between April and September 2013. The audit established that about K24 billion ($32.9 million) was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :