Judge Chombo asked for special prayers over ‘political pressure’

High Court Judge Esmie Chombo asked her church for special prayers to help her handle the “political pressure” ahead of the e case of the shooting of former Malawi budget director Paul Mphwiyo.

John Gift Mwakhwawa lawyer for one of the suspects Pika Manondo argued that his client’s sister-in-law goes to the same church with the judge and she is the one who confided that Justice Chombo was facing political pressure and had asked for special prayers, this is according to court documents.

Chombo, a born again Christian was assigned the case due to start today (Wednesday) in which five accused persons who are former Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara, businessman Pika Manondo, Dauka Manondo, Robert Kadzuwa and Macdonald Kumwembe are charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Justice Chombo:  Asked for prayers

Justice Chombo: Asked for prayers

The Judge was not amused by the claims made by defence team, saying they were  unfounded and meant to intimidate her.

But Chombo , who made international headlines when she rejected US pop singer Madonna’s petition to adopt  Mercy John from Malawi when she was three, accepted to recuse herself based on comments she allegedly made that she was receiving political pressure to sway the case in favour of the state over the shooting case.

The accused were in court on Wednesday and Mphwiyo was expected to be the first to testify as a state witness.

Mphwiyo was shot three times at his Lilongwe Area 43 resident as he drove into his residence during the night of September 13, 2013. The shooting opened up a can of worms and brought to the fore the looting of the public purse amounting to millions of dollars which is now known as cashgate.

In his sworn affidavid Mphwiyo has disclosed that before his shooting he was receiving pressure from Kasambara and ruling People’s Party (PP) spokesperson Hophmally Makande to make questionable payments.

Some of the revelations made so far clearly link the shooting incident to the cashgate scandal.

Some 68 state employees are currently facing corruption charges for the looting of more than $20 million dollars (15 million euros) state funds, after the scandal was uncovered in October 2013.

Government blamed “loopholes” in the payment system introduced when the late president Bingu wa Mutharika started his term for the massive looting of public funds.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 40 percent of its state budget funded by foreign donors.

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