The High Court in Blantyre has given Times Media Group 14 days to indicate whether they will contest libel suit filed by cashgate convict Oswald Lutepo, failing which judgment may be entered without further notice.
The prisoner is demanding K1 billion damages from Times for libel and has commenced legal proceedings against the country’s major media institution.
Lutepo, who is serving a 11 year-jail term after being convicted for conspiracy to defraud government and money laundering, sued Times Media Group, publishers of The Sunday Times, over a story alleging that he was allowed to have sex sessions with his wife on May 31 2016 at Chichiri Prison.
The Sunday Times reported that Lutepo was granted conjugal rights and had sex with a woman believed to be his wife.
Lutepo, through his lawyer Joseph K. Kamkwasi of Joe and Max Chambers, denied the claims and demanded K1 billion from Times Media Group damages after filing for libel suit against the paper.
The legal firm gave Times Media Group seven days to respond, failing which they would compelled to commence legal proceeding in the High Court.
Kamkwasi said the article was intended to prevent Lutepo from enjoying reduction of his jail term (by a third) by way of remission on account of good behaviour.
“Our clients deny having had sexual intercourse at the penal institution and state that they are fully aware that sexual intercourse is not permissible at penal institutions in Malawi and such instructions were fully communicated by the authorities when Mr. Oswald Lutepo commenced his jail term.
“We do not believe that prisoners have no rights to their reputation. We therefore have instructions to claim from you the sum of One Billion Malawi Kwacha being damages for libel on the footing of aggravated damage,” said Kamkwasi.
And latest writ of summons—dated June 21 2016 and endorsed by Chief Justice Andrew K. Nyirenda, SC—gives the Times Media Group 14 days to indicate whether they will challenge the proceedings or not, failing which judgement may be entered without further notice.
“This writ of summons has been issued against you by the above named plaintiff in respect of the claim set out on the back.
“We command you within 14 days after the service of this writ on you, inclusive of the day of service, you must either satisfy the claim or return to this Court the accompanying acknowledgement of service stating therein whether you intend to contest these proceedings.
“Take notice that if you fail to satisfy the claim or to return the acknowledgement within the time stated, or if you return the acknowledgement without stating therein an intention to contest proceedings, the Plaintiff may proceed with the action and judgment may be entered against without further notice,” reads the summons in part.
Times have stood by their story and reported further that authorities transferred the prison warder who allowed Lutepo have sex on sentence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :