The High Court of Malawi has relaxed bail conditions for two of the 15 people suspected of a role in the 2011 mysterious death of Robert Chasowa, a fourth year engineering student at The Polytechnic, and given them back their K250 000 cash bail bond.
Through private practice lawyer Ambokire Salimu, the first and second accused—Petros Tembo and Geoffrey Doff Botoman— who filed a notice of intention to sue to the Attorney General demanding K30 million each compensation for wrongful imprisonment — are now on non-cash bail bond.
They were reporting to police twice a week but now they will be required to report once in every three months.
Salimu said the two suspects made the application after noting that the Stae was not prosecuting them.
Tembo and Botoman were the first to be arrested in 2012 in connection to Chasowa’s murder following outcome of a Commission of Inquiry which was chaired by Judge Andrew Nyirenda, who is now the Chief Justice.
The two were remanded for about seven months at Zomba Central Prison then later transferred to Chichiri Prison before being given bail in the criminal proceedings.
The two had applied to the court to have their case discharged on the basis that they could not wait indefinitely because it was evident the State had failed to produce evidence against them as indicated by the continued delays to commence trial.
Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Edward Twea who, after perusing through the files for the accused, ruled earlier this year that the formality of charging the two after their arrests was not done although they were granted bail.
Salimu said the K30 million claims are on the basis that “these are exemplary or aggravated damages” which are not normal damages, but punitive.
He added: “Aggravated damages, basically in terms of false imprisonment you don’t only look at the time of the incarceration, you just look at the conditions under which someone was held.
“After their bail, every moment they get employed and their employers know they are connected to Chasowa’s case they instantly get dismissed. So, they have really suffered since their arrests.”
Malawi Police Service (MPS) insists in its latest communication to Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs that the student committed suicide contrary to earlier findings that he was murdered.