Lawyer downplays Malawi Police charges on ‘coup plotters’: Misdemeanors

One of the lawyers for opposition DPP acting president Peter Mutharika and other arrested party officials , Chancy Gondwe , has said Police has not pressed  misdemeanor charges for an alleged coup plot.

Malawi Police on Monday arrested several top officials, including Peter Mutharika, following their implication in the just released Commission of Inquiry report into the death of Malawi’s former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika last year.

Others arrested are:

  • Patricia Kaliati, former Information minister
  • Dr Jean Kalirani, former Health minister
  • Henry Mussa, former Local Government minister
  • Bright Msaka, Chief Secretary to the Government
  • Kondwani Nankhumwa, former deputy Foreign Affairs minister
  • Goodall Gondwe, current Minister of Economic and Planning
  • Nicholas Dausi, DPP spokesperson
  • Duncan Mwapasa, former presidential guard commander
  • Necton Mhura, deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet

The group are accused of trying to prevent then vice president Joyce Banda from assuming power last year, after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.

Peter Mutharika's freedom curtailed. With loyalist Leston Mulli in Mulakho wa Alhomwe shirt.-Photo by Maurice Mlkawihe/Nyasa Times

Peter Mutharika’s freedom curtailed. With loyalist Leston Mulli in Mulakho wa Alhomwe shirt.-Photo by Maurice Mlkawihe/Nyasa Times

Mutharika lawyers: Chancy Gondwe and Kalekeni Kaphale to mount vigorous defence.-Photo by Maurice Mkawihe/Nyasa Times

Mutharika lawyers: Chancy Gondwe and Kalekeni Kaphale to mount vigorous defence.-Photo by Maurice Mkawihe/Nyasa Times

Mutharika and many others have been charged with perjury and soliciting to break the law.

“They could not be released on police bail and we are working on filing a bail application at Lilongwe Magistrates Court first thing in the morning on Tuesday where the police are expected to formally charge them. Meanwhile, the police have just read the charges to them,” Gondwe told Nyasa Times.

“Those charges are misdemeanor and not felonies although the police have refused to grant them bail. We will challenge the arrests in court,” the lawyer said.

It was not clear if the group would also face the more serious charge of treason, which could carry the death sentence.

Malawi’s National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo said “the investigations are still going on.”

Peter Mutharika handed himself over to Southern Region Police Headquarters in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre, in the morning following a warrant arrest on him.

The arrest of the “coup plotters” sent shock waves through Malawi, fuelling anger at President Banda’s government, which has been much feted by the international community.

Malawi police fired teargas at DPP supporters  protesting the arrests outside police headquarters in Blantyre, but the protesters failed to disperse and retaliated by throwing stones.

Malawi police fired teargas at DPP supporters protesting the arrests outside police headquarters in Blantyre, but the protesters failed to disperse and retaliated by throwing stones.

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