Malawi ex-pres. Muluzi graft case: Judge allows lawyer Nyamilandu to prosecute

The High Court in Blantyre has thrown out the application that Deputy Director for Prosecutions of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) David Nyamilandu is ineligible to practise law in Malawi following a recent Constitutional Court ruling.

Former president Bakili Muluzi’s lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale sought clarification on how Nyamilandu was allowed into the bar in view of a ruling barring him from practicing.

Nyamilandu is lead prosecutor in the e $11 million (about K1.7bn) graft case against the former president and his accomplice Lyness Whisky, his former personal assistant.

Court Ruling

However, on Monday Judge Maclean Kamwambe argued the earlier ruling by Constitutional Court only outlaws Nyamilandu practicing as private lawyer and not under public service, saying the Muluzi’s counsel team reliance on the Constitutional Court judgment was misplaced.

Muluzi: Denies any wrongdoing

Muluzi: Denies any wrongdoing

“After reading the mentioned Constitutional Court ruling, it has been noticed that the counsel is only barred from practicing as private legal counsel. However, the ruling is silent on the appointment under public service,” noted Justice Kamwambe.

Justice Kamwambe also quashed another objection by Kaphale that Nyamilandu’s appointment did not follow procedures as he was not permitted by Chief Justice to practice law in the country.

Kaphale told the court that government did not notify the Chief Justice on Nyamilandu’s appointment and that his name was not listed among those that have been permitted to practice as legal counsel in the country.

“There is no evidence that procedures were flouted in the appointment of the counsel. I therefore, see no objection in allowing the counsel to practice,” ruled Kamwambe.

The court’s ruling means Nyamilandu-not present at the court- will lead ACB counsel and now proceed prosecuting the matter, which is set to resume tomorrow (Tuesday).

The Judge also accused Muluzi’s lawyers of not following the proper procedure in their application, saying they can lodge a fresh application.

Appeal

In an interview, Kaphale said: “Without sounding confrontational or downplaying what the judge said, there are few issues that are urgent and need to be raised before the court. Firstly, the lawyer is not a citizen; secondly, there are broad policy questions that need to be answered.

“Mr. Nyamilandu is a lucky person, the court said is eligible to practice under public service, but what logic is there that Malawians cannot be allowed to practice and non-Malawians are allowed? How many non-Malawians government is willing to take in under public capacity?”

Kaphale, however, said his team was more than ready to proceed with the case while considering the possibilities of appealing against Judge Kamwambe’s ruling.

“We hope government will be able to follow procedures in notifying the Chief Justice on appointments made especially about foreigners,” he said.

In 2006, Nyamilandu’s appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was rejected by Parliament because he held an Australian citizenship which he refused to renounce.

Nyamilandu is leading a team of ACB prosecutors comprising Clement Mwala and David Bandawe on the Muluzi case. Muluzi is being accused of allegedly diverting donor money into his personal account.

Frail

A frail-looking Muluzi turned up at the court accompanied by some sympathisers.

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.

Muluzi was initially charged with 86 counts of corruption and abuse of office. They were trimmed to three. He denies the charges.

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