Bail ruling for ‘Ntopwa 1’, ‘Bangwe 1’ slated for Sunday: Chasowa murder trial Malawi

After hearing the first episode of the murder trial where suspects that included opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) heavyweights Noel Masangwi and director of youth Lewis Ngalande and two others applied for bail, the High Court reconvened in the afternoon where it also heard bail submissions from the remaining four suspects on their connection with the murder of Polytechnic studentRobert Chasowa last year..

In his application, Chancy Gondwe a defense lawyer representing the other four, namely Mike Chitenje “Bangwe 1”, Isaac Osman “Ntopwa 1,” Police Constable Stanford Horea and Stone Mwamadi, said the state has failed to provide cogent evidence for the suspects to remain in custody hence the need for them to be freed.

Bail plea

“Your worship, apart from the fact that bail is a constitutional right, I see no reason why my clients should continue be under incarceration yet there is tangible proof that the state is failing to come up with persuasive evidence linking the four to the murder apart from being moved by information circulating in public domain,” Gondwe submitted to the court.

Chitenje: ‘Bangwe One’ still on remand

“I therefore expect that this court will rise above public perception to release my clients on bail.,” he said.

“This court must also note that the state has even failed to prove beyond doubt that if released the suspects would tamper with any evidence related to this case,” explained Gondwe.

However, on its part, state prosecutors argued that murder charge  – which carries a maximum sentence of death- is serious offence as such there are fears that if released the suspects have the capacity to either flee the country or tamper with evidence.

Ruling date

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Sylvester Kalembera in a rather rare and somehow dramatic ruling, set this coming Sunday afternoon November 4, 2012 as the date for his ruling on the bail application made by defense attorney Gondwe.

“Having heard from both sides on the matter I reserve my ruling on whether to free the suspects on bail or not on Sunday at 2pm in this very same court,” Kalembera told the jam packed court room.

The four suspects are being charged together with eight others after they were named in commission of inquiry president Mrs. Joyce Banda instituted following the death of a fourth year Malawi Polytechnic engineering student Robert Chasowa.

Background

Chasowa, who studied engineering, was found dead at a college campus in Blantyre in September last year. Police said he had jumped to his death from a five-storey building and produced bogus suicide notes as evidence.

But a Justice Andrew Nyirenda-led inquiry ordered by President Joyce Banda, who succeeded Bingu wa  Mutharika after his death in April, rule that Chasowa had in fact been murdered.

President Banda promised that the culprits would “face the full wrath of the law”.

Chasowa, the chairman of a student activist group, Youth for Democracy (YFD), had published anti-Mutharika government leaflets before his death.

Meanwhile, Masangwi and his other five accomplices have until Friday to wait for their fate and they are being represented by lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale.

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