The Constitutional Court has delivered its ruling on the corruption case involving former president Bakili Muluzi validating Section 32 of the Corrupt Practises Act (CPA), effectively putting the 12 year’s case to proceed to trial.
The court ruled that the requirement to explain one’s wealth is constitutional.
The State questions the former Head of State of K1.7 billion ($12 million) during his 1994-2004 presidency which was in his personal account.
Muluzi, 74, and his former personal secretary, Lyness Whiskey, are answering the charges of corruption on the money which government alleged was public funds diverted to the former President’s personal account.
The funds were reportedly given to Muluzi directly from Taiwan, Morocco and Libya for the campaign of late Bingu wa Mutharika, his hand picked successor under United Democratic Front (UDF).
The trial begun in 2006 and to date it has not been concluded, making it one of the most dragged high-profile criminal cases in the country.
In 2011, Muluzi’s lawyers applied to the Constitutional Court to determine the constitutionality of Section 32 of the CPA, which puts the burden on the accused to prove their innocence against the general principle where the burden lies in the hands of the State.
Three judges—Sylvester Kalembera, Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga and Dingiswayo Madise—which formed the panel of the Constitutional Court considered the section valid, meaning Muluzi will continue standing trial and the law will remain applicable as has been the case all along.
The judges said the Corrupt Practices Act was enacted to aid the Constitution and the Penal Code to curb corruption and enhance transparency and accountability among public officials, the bedrock of trust, the basis upon which all public officers govern, adding that the section cannot result in an unfair trial.
“It would be a bad day for justice for this court or any other court to come to a conclusion that giving an accused person [a chance] to explain the source of his/her property is violating his/her right to fair trial,” Madise said
Muluzi’s lawyer Tamando Chokhotho informed the court he will appeal against the determination.
But State, represented by senior assistant chief state advocate Steve Kayuni said it was happy with the court’s outcome.
The lead prosecutor in the case, Reyneck Matemba, recused himself, citing personal reasons. He is now head of the graft-busting body Anti Corurption Bureau (ACB).
The trial opened in 2009 but has been subjected to several adjournments, partly because of Muluzi’s hospitalizations related to spinal problems. Both sides reject allegations that they have been deliberately delaying proceedings.
Local press reports indicate that the State had spent as much as $12 million on the case.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :