Malawi treason trial start April 4: Mutharika and others to make plea

The treason trial of former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) interim leader Peter Mutharika and 11 others arrested in connection to the death of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika and subsequent transfer of power is due to start on April 4, Nyasa Times understands

Ministry of Justice spokeswoman Apoche Itimu, who is in the prosecution team, confirmed that the treason suspects will be taken to court soon to make their plea and that trial will commence.

The suspects, include former cabinet ministers, Patricia Kaliati, Henry Mussa, Goodall Gondwe, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, DPP spokesperson Nicholus Dausi, and former senior government officials, Bright Msaka, and Necton Mhura.

Former presidential legal adviser Allan Ntata was charged in absentia, as he is believed to be in the UK.

To face treason trial: Goodall Gondwe (L) and Peter Mutharika

To face treason trial: Goodall Gondwe (L) and Peter Mutharika

The official Commission of Inquiry report said that army commander General Henry Odillo had refused Peter Mutharika’s request to seize power when Bingu wa Mutharika dies last April.

Four of the accused Peter Mutharika, Goodall Gondwe, Jean Kalilani and Bright Msaka will appear in court to take plea on perjury charges.

“The charges emanate from false statements they made to the Commission of Inquiry into circumstances of the death of the late president Professor Bingu wa Mutharika and into the political transition following his death,” said Itimu.

She added: “The filling of these charges marks the beginning of trials of people suspected to have committed various offences during the transition of State power following the death of the late president.”

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Ivy Kamanga, who reportedly went into hiding after receiving death threats for releasing on bail 11 coup attempt suspects a fortnight ago, is now reporting for work.

Anonymous people warned are said to have warned her by telephone that they were going to raid her house for granting bail to the treason suspects.

Mike Tembo, spokesperson for the judiciary said Justice Kamanga is now reporting her normal duties.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) has since appealed to the judiciary to remain to remain resolute and true to the Constitution and all laws in the country.

“If parties are not satisfied with decisions of the courts, our Constitution and other laws provide avenues for right of appeal and stay of a decision,” said the law body in a statement.

“Issuing threats against it or individual judicial officers or interfering in any way with the performance of its or their duties is an assault on the rule of law,” reads the statement in part.

The lawyer’s body observed that the threats were also a threat to the independence of the Judiciary and the essence of the country’s democracy

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