No bail for Kasambara: Mzuzu High Court moves case back to Lilongwe

Hearing for a bail application by former Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara,  charged with attempt murder of Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo, failed to take off at the Mzuzu High Court on Tuesday because of missed or omitted technical procedures by Kasambara’s defence team.

The Court has since referred the matter to Lilongwe and hearing will commence on Wednesday.

Kasambara, one of the country’s prominent lawyers and a senior counsel (SC),  was not in court but the jam packed court included hordes of his relatives, Malawi’s security details and others.

Conspicuously absent were members from his ruling People’s Party.

Even before the commencement of the hearing under miscellaneous cause number 69 of 2013, the State prosecution led by Director of Public Prosecutions Bruno Kalemba and Senior State Advocate Waliko Nkosi raised two preliminary issues on how the matter was brought to Mzuzu from the Lilongwe registry.

Kasambara: Case to be heard in Lilongwe

Kasambara’s lawyer Mzuzu based Victor Gondwe had written the Lilongwe High Court registry for an ex-parte bail hearing in Mzuzu since none on the same has been filed in Lilongwe.

Kalemba said according to Malawi’s Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code section 73, 74, 75 and 76 it is only the Court that has powers to transfer proceedings before and after an inquiry and not lawyers.

“A single letter is a travesty of the law and has not followed the whole process. That letter has not removed the matter from Lilongwe registry,” Kalemba said.

He also said the sanctity of Malawi justice system will remain questionable if lawyers conduct themselves in a manner that put courts in awkward situations.

Judge Dingiswayo Madise also queried why the matter was brought to Mzuzu and not heard in Lilongwe.

However, Gondwe said the letter was written to the Lilongwe High Court Registry and not to the Director Public Prosecutions.

“This was an ex-parte application and the High Court has jurisdiction to hear this matter. After all both courts have equal jurisdiction,” he said.

At this point Judge Madise appeared convinced that hearing of the application should commence when he said “let’s hear the substantive issues on the bail application”

“We need to be clear here that the misconception is that the applicant (Kasambara) might be seen to be judge shopping and we would not allow that or be part of it,” he said.

But he immediately adjourned the court for about 30 minutes while he conferred  with Judges of the Lilongwe registry.

On resumption of the proceedings, Justice  Madise said the bail application will return to Lilongwe under Judge Esmie Chombo.

“We do not want to be seen as political pawns. After all what is so special about the Kasambara case? This court has handled hundreds of case files from robbery, murder, rape and many others. This Court cannot change because it’s Kasambara,” Madise said.

Kasambara, who is  ruing PP’s director of legal affairs,  has been charged with attempted murder of Mphwiyo.

He has no yet entered a plea.

President  Joyce Banda , who Kasambara has named as one of his witness in the matter, is no record saying the shooting of the budget director was linked to his efforts to fight corruption.

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