Malawi court snubs Kasambara’s request to discharge K5bn cashgate case

The High Court in Lilongwe on Tuesday rejected a request by former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara, Pika Manondo and others to discharge the case in which they accused of conspiracy, possession of property suspected to have been stolen and money laundering involving K5 billion.

Kasambara, also private practice lawyer, applied to the High Court on Monday to discharge the case because the state was not ready with the case.

He also requested the High Court sitting in Malawi’s administrative capital to softens the conditions of the bail that they were earlier granted.

Kasambara:  No discharge

Kasambara: No discharge

Kasambara told the High court that the state rushed to court when they were not ready with the case, hence the application to discharge the case and that all the accused person’s bail conditions must be varied.

He therefore requested the court to discharge the case until the prosecution is ready the case.

Defence lawyers—Gift Nankhuni, Andy Kaonga, Shadreck Mhango and Powell Nkhutabasa—for the other accused persons supported the applications.

But Justice Chifundo Kachale on Tuesday dismissed the application, noting that state has not portrayed any lack of preparedness considering that full trial was yet to commence.

He dismissed fears by lawyers for the accused persons that if the two cases are tried separately then the Lilongwe-based suspects were being tried in absentia as “groundless” and “illogical”.

Kachale also said the state’s submission that the trial of case in question should commence after completion of Osward Lutepo’s cashgate case was valid.

Justice Kachale supported the state’s claims that Lutepo’s case being heart in Zomba will give some insights to the prosecution of Kasambara’s case.

Said the judge: “In my considered opinion, it is legally unsound to equate a mere allegation in court to a breach of the right to be presumed innocent.

“The judicial process is in fact the legally recognised method for establishing the guilt of an accused person. Thus, the State cannot be faulted for bringing the charges it has done against the present suspects before this constitutionally established forum.”

Kasambara and fellow lawyer Wapona Kita are accused of conspiracy, possession of property suspected to have been stolen amounting K55 million while Pika Manondo and Kasambara are separately charged with possession of stolen property which is 11 vehicles, K22 million in Manondo’s custody and K5 billion in both their custody.

The state indicated that it would parade 11 witnesses and tender 39 documents as evidence against Kasambara and others.

According to Special prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasul, the High Court in Zomba had provided a timeline for the Osward Lutepo case involving K4.3 billion which he said was linked to the Kasambara case.

Nyasulu presented the court with the Zomba case ruling which indicates that October 6 to 10 have been allocated to parading of witnesses and if Lutepo is found with a case to answer and the defence is given four days to parade witnesses in defence, a judgement should be ready by November end.

Kasambara however  argued that the calendar for the Zomba case was “speculative” because the accused person or judge could fall sick.

Justice  Kachale said Kasambara’s argument  was a “ludicrous” allegation because such matters were part of ordinary human existence.

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