Malawi ex-Pres. Muluzi challenges lawyer Nyamilandu’s eligibility: K1.7 bn case

Former president Bakili Muluzi has challenged the eligibility of Deputy Director for Prosecutions at Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) David Nyamilandu prosecuting his K1.7 billion theft case, arguing the lawyer is not Malawian citizen, therefore cannot prosecute the matter.

Muluzi and his accomplice Lyness Whisky are being tried on K1.7 billion government claims was donor money diverted into a personal account whilst in power.

Objection

Through his lawyers led by Kelekeni Kaphale, Muluzi -who was present – argued when the case resumed at High Court in Blantyre today (Wednesday) morning that based on Constitutional Court ruling, Nyamilandu is not a citizen and cannot practice law in the country.

“We are aware that he is ineligible. Therefore, we would want to be clarified on the basis on which he has acquired the right to be at the bar in view of that ruling,” said Kaphale before Kamwambe summoned the defence and prosecution teams to his chambers for discussion.

Nyamilandu was rejected by the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament when he was appointed as ACB director, for among many issues refusing to renounce his Australian citizenship.

Muluzi: Objection to State lawyer

Muluzi: Objection to State lawyer

In an interview, Kaphale pointed out that the objection raised was in line with the ruling of Constitutional Court.

“It’s matter of law as ruled by Constitutional Court, there was also a need for this court (High Court) to consider that one of the State lawyers is not the citizen of this country therefore he is ineligible to prosecute the case,” said Kaphale.

Ruling

Kaphale’s preliminary objection forced Judge Maclean Kamwambe to call for a few minutes recess to discuss with both parties in chamber before finally adjourning the case to Monday May 20th, 2013 for his ruling on Nyamilandu’s fate.

“The issue of one of State lawyers to stand at Bar has stand out to be bigger than as it thought. Several Sections have been cited apart from the Constitutional Court ruling on the same,” said Justice Kamwambe.

“We need to move cautiously on the issue; I need to make ruling on the matter before the State proceed with the case. I therefore, adjourn the case to Monday morning for ruling. I hope no more call-breaks will lie on the way,” said Justice Kamwambe.

Nyamilandu, lead counsel in the Muluzi case, has been tussling with Malawi Law Society at Constitutional Court over his eligibility to practice in the country following his refusal to renounce his Australian citizenship.

Muluzi, looking composed and unmoved, turned up at the court accompanied by some UDF officials notably Lillian Patel and Henderson Mabeti aside tens of party supporters who came to witness the case as armed police officers safeguarded the court compound.

Background

The former president has always said the charges were linked to his dispute with his successor, late Bingu wa Mutharika.

Muluzi stepped down in 2004 after serving as president for 10 years.

He retired from active politics in 2009 due to ill-health. A frail-looking Muluzi sat in the courtroom with a cushion placed to support his back.

His trial has been delayed by his health problems as he has had undergone three operations on his back.

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