Mzuzu Cell death: Court discharges Malawi Police officers

The High Court in Mzuzu has discharged three Mzuzu based Cops it found with a case to answer in the death of a suspect in Police custody two years ago because the state failed to avail itself without reason at the resumption of the trial on Tuesday.

The discharge by Judge Dingiswayo Madise, wrongly interpreted as an acquittal by families members of the deceased sparked uncontrolled wailing in court and later violent skirmishes against the Cops.

Both Police and defence lawyers confirmed the developments.

Ghambi:  Defence lawyer

Ghambi: Defence lawyer

“This discharge means that the convicts are not legal bound to the case and can resume work. But the State can within 12 months apply to the court for the resumption of the trial based on the same facts,” lead defence Council, Christon Ghambi told Nyasa Times.

Later outside the court, more than five family members of the decased pounced on Cops, Constable George Kamphe, Constable Victor Msoloma and Constable Lucius Mpakeni and it took contingent of Court Marshalls and police to protect the convicts.

Mzuzu police Station PRO Sergeant Maurice Chapola said Police have not arrested anyone in connection with the violence despite the facts some of Cops sustained injuries.

The suspect Edison Msiska, a former Natural Resources College student, died on January 29 2012, under mysterious circumstances, four days after his arrest after he was found with property suspected to have been stolen.

Ghambi, assisted by George Jivason Kadzipatike orally applied to the Court for the Cops to be discharged citing section 247 of the penal code.

“Any person who unlawfully does any act, or omits to do any act which it is his duty to do… shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall liable to imprisonment for six months,” the section reads.

Court records indicate that the State did not give reasons for its absence despite receiving summons in May this year.

“Our argument was that when trial resumed in February this year and as defence we found ourselves in an awkward situation. The Court punished us by revoking our clients bail. We had to reapply. Similarly we asked the Court to exercise fairness,” Ghambi said.

At the resumption of trial on February 26, 2014,Ghambi his oral submission to Court presided by Judge Madise asked the Court for adjournment saying the defence’s principal witnesses, who are senior Cops were not available to testify due to logistical problems.

However, Judge Madise, who was ready for trial, went ballistic as he saw the defence’s prayer as a delaying tactic.

He revoked the Cops bail and threw them into Police custody.

Police arrested six officers on April 18th  2012  namely, Inspector Gertrude Munkhondia, Constable George Kamphe, Constable Victor Msoloma, , Constable Lucius Mpakeni, Constable Bertha Chavula and , Constable Joel Kapunda, and charged them with murder following police investigations into Msiska’s death.

At the close of the Prosecution case in 2012, the Court acquitted Inspector Gertrude Munkhondia, Constable Bertha Chavula and Constable Joel Kapunda because of lack of evidence.

Nevertheless, it found the trio Constable George Kamphe, Constable Victor Msoloma and Constable Lucius Mpakeni with a case to answer on a charge of manslaughter and not murder as earlier charged.

Renowned Malawi Pathologist Doctor Charles Dzamalala, who was hired to do an autopsy, described Msiska’s death as the worst case of assault he had ever seen in his 13-year-old career.

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