The High Court in Lilongwe has overruled preliminarily objections filled by two defendants Maxwell Namata and Luke Kasamba who have been charged with theft and money laundering in the ongoing Capital Hill Cashgate trials.
The two businessmen pleaded not guilty to the two counts that they stole K24 million from government and proceeded to use the proceeds for their personal use.
But their lawyers, Ralph Kasambara and Wapona Kita, wanted the court to order that the State vary the charges against their clients because of duplicity.
The lawyers had earlier raised objections that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had served the defence with a summary of the witness statements and not the actual statements as required.
State prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu argued that the first offence of theft was committed before the second offence of money laundering and they contained different elements.
“The fact that the same amount stolen is subject of the same offence of money laundering does not make it one and the same offence,” Nyasulu argued.
But Kita further submitted on the point of wording of charges which he argued would not accord his clients fair trial as they would not understand the charges against them.
However, High Court judge Annabel Mtalimanja said the accused persons could not dictate how they should be charged, but could only demand that the charges be framed according to applicable procedure but with the right to fair trial.
Justice Mtalimanja concluded the charges were clear and there was no duplicity in charging the accused on two separate counts of theft and money laundering.
She adjourned the matter to March 28 for continuation of hearing.