Malawi’s High Court has suspended the trial of against former President Bakili Muluzi after his attorney Tamanda Chokotho presented three arguments which he wants Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda to rule on.
Muluzi and his then personal assistant, Violet Whisky, were accused of diverting K1.7 billion allegedly public funds into Muluzi’s personal account.
The former president argued when he was arrested that the charges amounted to “political persecution”.
Muluzi stepped down as president after serving two terms in office in 2004.
Former president’s newly hired lead lawyer, Chokotho, told High Court judge Maclean Kamwambe that he wanted the case to go to the Constitutional Court as per Rule 8(1) of the Courts (High Court) (Procedure on the interpretation of Application of the Constitution) Rule as he felt the issues being raised in the case are constitutional in nature.
Chokotho claimed that Muluzi’s hand-picked successor, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, interfered with the operations of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) by ordering his arrest on corruption charges when ACB had no intention to carry out the arrest.
It is on record with a leaked audio clip that late Mutharika ordered former ACB director Gustav Kaliwo to “shake up” Muluzi.
Chokotho also argued that the case was politically-motivated because Muluzi—who was head of State between 1994 and 2004—was continuously being harassed by arresting him. Muluzi was also arrested on trumped up treason trial at the airport when he arrived from UK. He is seeking compensation on that.
The lawyer also questioned the conduct of the offices of the ACB and the Attorney General (AG) in the matter.
“Did the former AG and director of ACB’s conduct to fabricate evidence against the accused not undermine the accused’s right to a fair trial as provided for in Section 42[f] of the Constitution?” queried Chokhotho.
Justice Kamwambe has suspended the proceedings until the Chief Justice determines whether the case is constitutional in nature.
Government already had given Muluzi back over 60 vehicles which ACB seized from him in 2009. According to ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba, the vehicles were really “deteriorating” hence an out-of-court agreement between anti-graft body and Muluzi lawyers led to the release of the vehicles earlier this year.
The agreement was subsequently validated by court consent, Matemba disclosed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :