Malawi ‘coup plotters’ charged with treason: Peter Mutharika also charged with inciting mutiny

Malawi’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president, Professor Peter Mutharika, has been formally charged with treason in a court in the capital, Lilongwe.

Mutharika and 10 others, who include Minister of Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe and former chief secretary to Malawi Government Bright Msaka was called to court Wednesday  to face formal charges of treason, which carries a possible death penalty.

Other charges pressed are; Inciting Mutiny (for Mutharika, Msaka and Gondwe), Conspiracy to Commit a Felony, Neglect of Public Duty, and Disobedience of Statutory Duty.

The charges were formally pressed to the suspects by Lilongwe  Chief Resident Magistrate Agness Chinangwa.

Treason suspects

Treason suspects

The group was arrested on Monday following a Commission of Inquiry Report that exposed attempts to circumvent constitutional order in last April’s power transition.

They include DPP officials Patricia Kaliati, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Nicholas Dausi, Henry Mussa, Symon Vuwa Kaunda and Jean Kalilani.

The others are former guard commander, Duncan Mwapasa and former deputy State Chief Secretary, Necton Mhura.

The 11 are being represented by a team of five lawyers which include Kalekeni Kaphale, Chancy Gondwe and Noel Chalamanda.

The State is being represented by lawyers Ralph Mhone, Ishamel Wadi, Lughani Mautwa, Apoche Itimu.

The plot is alleged to have taken place amid the chaos of Bingu wa Mutharika’s death in April last year.

Last week an inquest ruled that Mutharika died of a heart attack on the way to hospital after collapsing at the State House.

But his death was not confirmed for two days and his body was flown to South Africa as would-be successors sought to buy time.

Six ministers, including then local government minister Henry Mussa, held a late-night news conference a day after Mutharika’s death to insist he was still alive.

Under the constitution, Banda was next in line to become president. But Mutharika had been grooming his brother Peter to succeed him.

Banda was eventually sworn in on April 7, after backroom dealings.

Siblings of  treason suspects Tapiwa Mutharika and Robeta  Msaka

Siblings of treason suspects Tapiwa Mutharika and Robeta Msaka

DPP supporters vigil at Maula prison

DPP supporters vigil at Maula prison

Peter Muthatrika and other  alleged coup plotter appearing in Lilongwe Magistrate Court

Peter Muthatrika and other alleged coup plotter appearing in Lilongwe Magistrate Court

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