The High Court in Blantyre has restored bail for business tycoon Thom Mpinganjira —who is accused of attempting to bribe five High Court of Malawi judges sitting as the Constitutional Court in the May 21 2019 presidential election nullification petition case— and will go home after staying one week on remand at Chichiri Prison.
The presiding judge Dorothy DeGabrielle has ordered the release of Mpinganjira but on condition that if he misbehaves, his bail be revoked.
Mpinganjira was remanded to Chichiri Prison last week following his application for plea bargain—an arrangement where prosecution and defence discuss a mutually satisfactory way to dispose a case.
His lead lawyer Patrice Nkhono applied for plea bargaining arrangement with the State “to save time and resources in the case”.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary (Sixth Edition) defines plea bargaining as “the process whereby the accused and the prosecutor in a criminal case work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case subject to court approval”.
It says the process involves the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser offence or to only one or some of the counts of a multi-count indictment in return for a lighter sentence than the possible for a graver charge.
Meanwhile, Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has started parading its prosecution witnesses with High Court Judge Mike Tembo, a member of the Constitutional Court panel, as the first to testify and furnished the court with printed WhatsApp text messages and two audio recordings of their conversations.
The judge has since adjourned the case to 12 November for continued trial.
Mpiganjira was arrested in January this year and is accused of attempting to bribe the Constitutional Court judges allegedly to rule in favour of former president Peter Mutharika.
On February 3, the five-judge panel nullified the presidential election results, declared that Mutharika was not duly elected and ordered a fresh election as prayed by first petitioner Saulos Chilima (UTM Party) and second petitioner Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi Congress Party).