High Court judge Chifundo Kachale has recused himself from hearing the the K5.7 billion money laundering case involving former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara.
Kasambara had asked the judge to opt out arguing that Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mary Kachale cannot prosecute a matter before her own husband without offending the rules of natural justice.
“It is trite law that justice should not only be done, but seen to be done.,” Kasambara said.
In his ruling on a similar application in a case involving former minister of Finance Friday Jumbe and two others, Kachale said throughout his judicial career, his wife had served in the office of the DPP apart from a brief stint as chief legal aid advocate, saying “in this era of gender equality, it is quite surprising to find someone seeking the kind of restrictions that are being proposed by this application on a couple whose professional careers happen to straddle different sides of the criminal justice system.”
Ruling on Kasambara’s application, Justice Kachale said if the trial in Zomba—where businessperson and politician Oswald Lutepo was convicted of cashgate on his own plea of guilty—presided over by judge Redson Kapindu was being prosecuted by anyone else from the DPP’s chambers, other than the DPP herself, Kasambara’s application would have failed.
“The court has upheld the request by Kasambara alleging the court’s close social ties with the DPP, who has been conducting an allied trial before Justice Kapindu, raises reasonable apprehension of some perception of lack of impartiality,” said Kachale in his rulling.
Adding: “Principally, it has been proposed that the court accepts that such perceptions are bound to rise in a context where the two separate trials are being presented by the State as part of the interrelated criminal enterprise.
“One may thus question whether there are exchanges of evidence or inappropriate discussions between the court and the Director of Public Prosecutions, any outcome from such a trial would lack the legitimacy and integrity pivotal to the inspiration and preservation of untainted public confidence in our judicial system.”
Kasambara’s co-accused, Pika Manondo, also asked the judge to recuse himself on grounds that Pika’s brother, Dauka, is alleged to have threatened the DPP; hence, Pika argued he could not have a fair trial. However, Pika’s application was rejected.
On Pika’s application, Kachale said his spouse is not presently involved in the proceedings, and that the proceedings are about Pika’s alleged involvement in criminal acts.
Kachale further said the court remains conscious of the reality that the institutional legitimacy and procedural integrity of the criminal justice system is in serious jeopardy of being imperiled due to the sudden increase of applicants for recusal.
In the case of attempted murder of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo, judge Michael Mtambo refused to step down as per Kasambara’s application, saying he will remain impartial.
Kasambara, Pika Manondo and businessperson Oswald Lutepo are answering on money laundering involving K785 million and obtaining money by false pretence.
In count one, Kasambara, Lutepo and Manondo have been charged with conspiracy to Section 35 (i) (d) of the Money Laundering Act.
Count four has Lutepo, Manondo then Kasambara and lawyer Wapona Kita trading as Ralph & Arnolds Associates charged with money laundering involving K55 million.
The charge for count three reads: “Raphael Kasambara, Oswald Lutepo and Pika Manondo between 26 July and August 2013 at Standard Bank Ginnery Corner Branch in the city of Blantyre, acting in concert and furtherance of a common unlawful purpose, each or the others or all of them had in their possession proceeds of crime, namely seven hundred eighty five million one hundred and five thousand kwacha (K785 105 000.00) which they knew or had reason to believe represented in a whole or in part directly or indirectly money stolen or unlawfully obtained.”
The other accused persons are Fletcher Kaizo and civil servant Roosevelt Ndovi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :