Malawi’s chief Cashgate suspect, Oswald Lutepo, will still face trial in multiple criminal charges at different courts despite not being fit and well as doctor’s examination report seen by Nyasa Times has no reference to his fitness for trial.
The 37-year-old businessman is accused of a myriad of crimes that include stealing billions of poor taxpayers’ money; laundering a couple of billions more; conspiracy to murder a former budget director as well as lying under oath in court otherwise known as perjury.
He admitted publicly thorough the media his wrong-doing in the Cashgate and has been in and out of hospital since last year.
Justice Michael Mtambo, when he presided the conspiracy to commit murder charge, had ordered that the case would continue regardless of Lutepo’s fitness to stand trial.
His lawyer Osward Mtupila claimed Lutepo has been certified medically not fit for trial.
However, Nyasa Times sources in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) say the report by Dr Jonathan Ngoma of Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe who examined Lutepo on February 4 2015; there is no reference to his fitness for trial.
“Lutepo was never paralysed as has been widely reported. All he has is anxiety disorder and panic attacks from time to time,” said the source, citing the medical report.
The source said several medical tests and investigations indicate that all the tests done to him were “normal.”
“He had a psychiatric assessment which confirmed a diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks.
He was discharged on Fluoxetine 20 mg daily,” the source quotes the medical report to be submitted to court.
Lutepo has been undergoing mental observation at St. John of God Psychiatric Hospital.
“A psychiatric assessment has been done and it confirms the earlier diagnosis made. He is being discharged on diazepam 5 mg at night and fluoxetine,” a medical report cited by the source reportedly reads.
One of the lawyers in the Justice Ministry chambers said “sickness should not afford protection to people who committed very serious crimes such as defrauding the public coffers.”
He added: “To let them walk away because they are not fit and well means they would get away with it.”
The lawyer said it’s imperative to try even ailing cashgate suspects in order to prevent future atrocities.
Lutepo is linked to the Cashgate from 2005 and face charges including theft and money laundering of K3.1 billion (US$6 .9 million) at the High Court in Zomba, theft and money laundering of K5.7 billion alongside former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara and others at the High Court in Zomba.
He is also facing Perjury charges at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court, Conspiracy to commit murder before the High Court in Lilongwe and tax evasion at the same court.
Malawi government is investigating the disappearance of about K22 billion from 2012 to 2014, and there is also an outcry to probe the K92 billion during the rule of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, from 2005 to 2012
Cashgate dates back to 2005 when the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis) was launched and Lutepo prominently appears to have got the second highest payments on the list of individuals amounting to K4.4 billion (US$9.8 million).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :