Chasowa murder: Court gives Police 14 days to justify arrest of suspects

The High Court in Blantyre has given state prosecutors a 14-day ultimatum to justify the basis of arresting two people suspected to have had a hand in the death of fourth-year Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa.

The two suspects Geoffrey Botomani, 28, and his accomplice Petro Petros Tembo, 30, were nabbed on July 13, 2012 and have been under solitary confinement at the Chichiri Prison since then.

They were charged with taking part into the death of Chasowa according to a charge sheet sourced at the criminal registry of the High Court.

Bail application

Both suspects applied for bail through their lawyer Chancy Gondwe on the grounds that they were being kept behind bars without tangible proof linking them to the murder.

Lawyer Chancy Gondwe: Next 14 days crucial

But when High Court convened Monday morning, Justice Maclean Kamwambe ruled that the two would be released on bail in two weeks pending on the nature of evidence that the state would bring into the court.

“The court will be pleased to release the two suspects on bail if there is no more affidavit evidence apart from the one that the Court has at the moment,” observed Kamwambe in the brief ruling.

Facts not emotional opinion

Meanwhile, on his part, lawyer Gondwe told Nyasa Times that he has confidence in the country’s judiciary system and is upbeat that it will not be swayed by what he called the emotional and public opinion making rounds.

Instead, Gondwe further added that he expects the court to make decisions basing on facts being presented in the case.

“My clients are innocent until a competent court proves them otherwise. I’m aware of the persecution the two have faced and continue to face at the hands of the media, government officials and even the general public. However, I’m confident they will be prosecuted basing on facts presented in the court of law and not what people are saying.,” Gondwe told Nyasa Times.

“The next 14 days will be crucial because it will determine the future of the case as the state is expected to substantiate the basis for the arrest of the two accused persons or else the Court has said it will grant them bail come 20 August, 2014,” he added.

He also revealed that from the look of things, “the court is baffled with the link that is there between the accused persons and the death of Robert Chasowa.”

Last people seen with Chasowa

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times investigations have found that currently the state has weak evidence to directly link the two accused to the death of Chasowa and this is posing serious threat to the future of arguably the high profile case of the moment.

This has been confirmed by a senior police officer who agreed with our findings that the only evidence that has been brought before the court against the accused is that Botomani and Tembo were only the last persons to be seen with the deceased prior to Chasowa’s death.

When later asked on possibility of the case been thrown out, Gondwe was: “Well it is too early to start suggesting about that possibility, anyway let’s wait for the hearing of the matter on 20th August, 2012 that is when the case would take shape.”

Malawi Law Society (MLS) president John-Gift Mwakhwawa indicated  there is no illegality for police to make the arrests while other inquiries are underway, arguing  that law-enforcers cannot leave suspected criminals scot-free because there is an inquiry going on.

Meanwhile, some political pundits have predicted that any verdict on the Chasowa murder would have an impact on 2014 polls, considering the fact that the engineering student was killed during the time of DPP regime and there is highest possibility that some of its top officials might be implicated.

 Fact File

An autopsy by College of Medicine in Blantyre last year showed Chasowa died from assault to his head inflicted by a blunt instrument or instruments rather than a fall as was earlier claimed by the police that he had committed suicide by jumping from a building at the campus.

He was found dead at the college in September 2011.

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