Embattled businessman, Thomson Mpinganjira, has appealed to the Supreme Court—the highest court on the Malawian soil—against High Court Judge Dorothy DeGabrielle’s refusal to recuse herself in a case in which the former is alleged to have attempted to bribe judges of the High Court with K500 million so they could rule in favour of former President Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as regards the disputed May 21 2019 general elections results.
Among others, the billionaire had submitted, through his attorney, Patrice Nkhono, that DeGabrielle had to recuse herself because she and President Judge of the High Court, Sylvester Kalembera, had offered to help him out if he gave them the sum of K300 million.
But Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and state lead lawyer, Reyneck Matemba, the defence’s moves are gimmicks they are employing so the highest court “can declare the case null and mis-trial; thus, the whole case should restart.”
Nyasa Times understands that in the appeal case, which will be held tomorrow morning [Friday] in the commercial capital Blantyre, Mpinganjira wants Justice DeGabrielle out of his case on allegations of impropriety.
‘Case goes confidential’
On Tuesday, Mpinganjira’s witness was heard without the public and media following his request to be heard in camera.
And on Thursday morning, defence told the court that it had called off a witness who was supposed to testify in the case as lawyer, Patrice Nkhono, said the “witness failed to show up on personal safety reasons.”
The Court has since adjourned the case to tomorrow afternoon [Friday], after which another determination by the Supreme Court on whether the case should be restarted would have been made.
According to Nkhono, the identity and nature of the evidence from their remaining “two or three witnesses” would be better off in camera.
“It is allowed by law that, if the circumstances demand, the case can be heard in camera if it is in the interest of justice. If it was simply to derail the proceedings, the court would not have allowed it,” said Nkhono.
Nkhono said the defence remains with two or three witnesses and he will be asking that they too be heard in camera.
Matemba, former Anti-Corruption Bureau director general now at the Ministry of Justice who is leading the state in the case, said he did not object to the application because he saw sense in the request.
“I will not give you the identity of the witness and also allow me not to discuss the evidence tendered in court as that will defeat the whole purpose of hearing the witness in camera,” he said.
The High Court Judge, in April 2021, found business mogul Thomson Mpinganjira with a case to answer in his alleged judges bribery case.
Making her ruling, DeGabrielle said evidence that the State brought before the court proved elements of attempting to bribe the judges that presided over the historic presidential election nullification case.
Mpinganjira pleaded not guilty, and has ever since engaged his defence on the case.
In one of the cross examinations, Mpinganjira claimed that he had been donating huge sums of money to almost all prominent political parties including Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), UTM and Peoples Party; as such, he was going to be okay with whoever were to win.
He also claimed that DPP and the MCP approached him to take up leadership positions in the parties.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :