Former budget director in the ministry of finance and gun-shot survivor Paul Montfort Mphwiyo and his 17 other suspects in the K2.4 billion cashgate case have failed to take plea on Thursday at Lilongwe High Court as prosecutors added another suspect in the case.
Mphwiyo was expected to take plea to four charges that was levelled against him by the state in the court last month together with 17 others who include former Accountant General David Kandoje, treasury employee Roosevelt Ndovie, Contractor Stafford Mpoola, Limumba Karim and others.
But soon after the start of the court session Thursday morning, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale who is being assisted Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB ) deputy director general Reyneck Matemba informed the court that with powers that was vested into them in the constitution which allows them to add any posible suspect they have added up Steve Likhunya Phiri on the charge sheet.
Kachale told the court that the suspect is currently remanded at Maula Prison as he was arrested fortnight .
He will be represented by lawyer Shadreck Mhango in the case.
Kachale told the court that Likhunya Phiri has been added on the accused list because of his role that led to the looting of K2,444,817,450.49 by the other 18 accused suspects.
The DPP said Likhunya is an IT (information technology ) expert and is suspected to have been the one tampering with software IFMIS.
“Likhunya Phiri’s role is like an umbrella, this is so because there are other things that could not happen if not he did not take part or offer his expertise in IT and tamper with IFMIS for the suspects to loot,” Kaphale told the court.
Kachale told the court that the Likhunya Phiri will answer four charges the same like first accused person Mphwiyo which are
1. Money Laundering
2. Conspiracy to defraud
3. Theft by Public servant
4. Theft by servant
Lawyer rShadreck Mhango told the court that he needed time to talk to his client who by then was at Maula Prison but on his way coming and asked for court to adjourn for some minutes.
After an hour of beak when the court reconvened Mhango told the court that his client has no problem to be charged together with other suspects but he said he was not ready to take plea as he is yet to be served with all necessary documents from the state.
Kachale also told the court that Mphwiyo who is being represented by lawyer Titus Mvalo and others served her with objections Wednesday afternoon and that leading counsel of all other 14 lawyers representing all suspects Meyer Chisanga also indicated that there are other preliminary objections before they take plea.
The DPP sked the court to issue directive whether to start with Mphwiyo objections and then continue with plea or wait for all legal counsel to file their objections and deal with them together.
Chisanga then asked the court to allow all legal counsel to raise their objections first before their clients take plea to avoid prejudice in the event that their client pleads not guilty today and later on plead guilty or vice versa.
Judge Esmie Chombo ruled that all disclosure and objections without prejudices be dealt with between now to the end of January, 2016 and that the court shall sit for plea on Wednesday 24 February, 2016 and if all objections shall be dealt with that day in time the state must be ready with its witnesses as they can be ready to start testifying on the very same day
Earlier, Kachale told the court that the 6th accused person in the case Maxwell Namata who was not in court during the earlier court appearance is in court and is being represented by lawyer Davie Lameck .Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :