AG Kasambara mired in conflict of interest situation again

It has been revealed that the Malawi Government has committed itself to pay K20 million in damages for false imprisonment to five men arrested along with Ralph Kasambara, now Attorney General and Minister of Justice, in January this year on kidnapping and wounding charges.

The five are Brian Magoya, Arthur Chikankheni, Ali Kaka, Mayamiko Kadango and Patrick Gadama.

According to Daily Times newspaper, this commitment has been consummated by consent order dated July 30, 2012 signed by a lawyer from Ralph and Arnolds Associates, Attorney General Kasambara and Deputy Registrar of the High Court of Malawi Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa.

Consent

The consent was arrived at as a condition for withdrawal of a contempt of court lawsuit which Kasambara and his accomplices had filed against top police officers for defying court bail and release order demanding their immediate release.

Kasambara and one of his boys, Aurther Chikankheni

“By mutual consent by the parties through their legal practitioners, it is hereby ordered and adjudicated… that all the above listed actions be and hereby stand wholly and effectively withdrawn forthwith.

“That the said damages and party cost be and are hereby mutually and consensually agreed at the total sum of K20, 000,000 (Twenty million kwacha),” reads the order in part.

The order further states that it is the office of the Attorney General which shall see to it that the money is paid out.

“That damages for false imprisonment and party cost for the above listed actions are payable by the Attorney General,” it reads.

Background

Police arrested and re-arrested Kasambara and his accomplices for allegedly assaulting some thugs who wanted to attack his at his offices at Magalasi in Blantyre in January this year.

Despite Blantyre Magistrates Court and High Court principal registry in Blantyre issuing bail and release orders respectively, the suspects were still detained until contempt of court lawsuit was filed against the police.

The officers who were sued were Head of Criminal Investigations Lexa Chalera, Southern Region Police Commissioner Rodney Jose, Head of Criminal Investigations FB Mkuka and Urban Criminal Investigations Officer Carolyn Jere.

But after Kasambara was appointed Attorney General and Justice Minister in April this year, his lawyer Lusungu Gondwe told the daily that Kasambara had opted to drop the case.

Gondwe, however, indicated that the remaining five complainants were the ones continuing with the proceedings to ensure that court rulings are obeyed.

Abuse?

While some commentators have expressed reservations on the impartiality of the Office of the Attorney General with respect to this case, others have even questioned if this is not blatant abuse of office and outright unethical; with Ralph Kasambara having a vested interest in the case and employer of the five who apprehended the alleged arsonists.

Ironically, no charges have been pressed against the alleged arsonists, creating doubt if after all they indeed confessed to have been sent to petrol bomb the offices of the then Human Rights campaigner now turned Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Such developments and dealings are fast becoming a modus operandi of the former Human rights campaigner, whose company has on more than one occasion represented individuals suing government.

Ralph and Arnolds Associates recently sued the government for billions of Kwacha on behalf of riot gear suppliers, mainly of Malawians of Indian origin, whom the Malawi Police refused to pay due to irregularities on among other things the quality of the equipment supplied.

With the Minister of Justice and Attorney General putting himself in circumstances of conflict of interest and more or less overseeing a systematic looting of state coffers, people are now wondering  “quis custodiet ipsos custodies?” – who is guarding the guards?

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