Acase where former president Bakili Muluzi and his then personal assistant, Violet Whisky, are accused in relation the K1.7billion that the state had claimed was money for government on Monday faced another hurdle as a key witness was reportedly taken ill, forcing the judge to adjourn the case to Thursday.
Judge Maclean Kamwambi was told by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) deputy director Reyneck Matemba that Victor Banda, himself former ACB deputy director, was sick and was meeting a doctor on Monday when he was supposed supposed to give evidence in the case.
Defence lawyers of Tamanda Chokotho and Jai Banda protested against this, accusing the government of deliberately dragging the case which has run close to eight years now.
However Judge Kamwambe said issues of health could not be compromised and granted the adjournment.
He said the defendants, Muluzi and his former aide were entitled to a fair trial.
Matemba said the state wants to have the case concluded as soon as possible, saying the delay was beyond the state control.
JudgKamwambe has adjourned the case to Thursday, April 14.
The former president argued when he was arrested that the charges amounted to “political persecution”.
Muluzi stepped down as president after serving two terms in office in 2004.
His lawyer, Tamanda Chokotho, had told High Court that he wanted the case to go to the Constitutional Court as per Rule 8(1) of the Courts (High Court) (Procedure on the interpretation of Application of the Constitution) Rule as he felt the issues being raised in the case are constitutional in nature.
Chokotho claimed that Muluzi’s hand-picked successor, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, interfered with the operations of ACB by ordering his arrest on corruption charges when ACB had no intention to carry out the arrest.
It is on record with a leaked audio clip that late Mutharika ordered former ACB director Gustav Kaliwo to “shake up” Muluzi.
Chokotho also argued that the case was politically-motivated because Muluzi—who was head of State between 1994 and 2004—was continuously being harassed by arresting him. Muluzi was also arrested on trumped up treason trial at the airport when he arrived from UK. He is seeking compensation on that.
The lawyer also questioned the conduct of the offices of the ACB and the Attorney General (AG) in the matter.
“Did the former AG and director of ACB’s conduct to fabricate evidence against the accused not undermine the accused’s right to a fair trial as provided for in Section 42[f] of the Constitution?” queried Chokhotho.
Meanwhile, Muluzi through his lawyers withdrew constitutional review case which was before Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda to certify it as a constitutional matter and then refer it to the Constitutional Court for determination so the case can remain within High Court.
Muluzi’s case started in 2009 and has now taken about six years due to numerous adjournments mainly attributed to the former president’s illness and objections from the defence as well as delays from the State.
Government already had given Muluzi back over 60 vehicles which ACB seized from him in 2009.
According to ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba, the vehicles were really “deteriorating” hence an out-of-court agreement between anti-graft body and Muluzi lawyers led to the release of the vehicles last year.
The agreement was subsequently validated by court consent, Matemba disclosed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :