Just a few days after a senior ruling People’s Party operative, Ephraim Chivunde, boasted of having talked to some High Court Judge to ensure that former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara stays in prison until January, Justice Esmie Chombo, on Thursday ruled that the former minister must remain under custody for another 30 days to give time to the Director of Prosecution (DPP) to finalize preparations for trial.
Chombo also provided for another 14 days for assessment of cash sureties for the bail, practically ensuring that Kasambara remains in custody until January, as boasted by Chivunde. The boasting was publicized by social media early this week.
The denial of bail to give the prosecution more time has puzzled legal minds as they say prosecution can continue with preparations investigations even when the accused is on bail, saying it happens all the time.
“To deny bail a judge has to make a finding on evidence that either the accused is a flight risk; and/or the accused will interfere with witnesses. The DPP did not express worries or give evidence on either of those grounds. On her part the judge herself did not find any of those grounds as facts. Hence court could not make that finding or deny bail on that basis,” said one leading legal mind who did not want to be named, saying she has cases before the same judge.
“All the DPP said was that the matter is complex and he needed 30 days more to start the case. And judge agreed with that without following any legal principles. Just like that? What is happening?” she queried.
“Something is not right, somewhere. From what I can see, I suspect that the state knows they have no case so they are using this as a pre-trial punishment knowing that once Kasambara walk, they cannot convict him because they have nothing on him if what we have been reading in the papers is anything to go by,” she said.
In sharp contrast to the DPP’s request, Deputy Police Inspector of Police, Nelson Bophani, who was hand-picked by President Joyce Banda to oversee the case, last week said that investigations were almost complete and that that they would be going to court soon with Mphwiyo being their first witness.
That was in stack contrast with extra 30 days requested today by the DPP and indication that one of them is not telling the truth.
Meanwhile, sources at the Ministry of Justice say that Chivunde’s ‘beef’ with Kasambara emanates from Kasambara’s refusal to intervene in an investigation the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) was carrying out on Chivunde.
Both Chivunde and Lutepo believe that it was Kasambara that reported their dealings to the ACB just because ACB officer handling the matter, Kondwani Zulu, happened to be Kasambara’s tenant in Mzuzu.
The ACB investigations on Chivunde were suddenly brought to a halt following orders from above, while the president was attending the UN General Assembly in the United States.
Chivunde is the only high profile ruling party official who has escaped arrest despite evidence by the ACB that he corruptly obtained billions of funds from government without being arrested despite evidence obtained by the ACB.
Chivunde is a close confidante of the president operatinng as a presidential advisor but has of late been seen in frequent company of the Intelligence Chief, Joseph Aironi, and other senior intelligence officers in the field.
Kasambara is being charged with the attempted murder of Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo who was shot by unknown men some two months ago. He denies having any knowledge of the shooting.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :