Defence pray for speedy trial in FISD directors’ case

Hearing of a case involving four directors of Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) failed to start on Monday because the presiding court officer, Senior Resident Magistrate (SRM) was not available for the proceedings.

The Magistrate, Florence Msekandiana is said to have been occupied with other equally important, official engagements.

FISD directors ( from left in mask, Frank Mwenechanya and Kondwani Nanchukwa)

A fresh date for hearing is expected to be set soon, according to Burton Phiri, one of the defence lawyers.

The directors; Moses Chirambo, Frank Mwenechanya, Kondwani Nanchukwa and Arthur Mpama are all facing charges of money laundering, conspiracy to commit a felony and fraud.

The accused have pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them.

The Fisd directors were arrested in November last year, but were only formally charged in July this year after about eight months.

Speaking at the court on Monday defence counsel, Burton Phiri said it is their prayer that this case will be expedited given the time that has already passed before hearing begins.

“As defence, we would have wanted this case started and concluded as soon as yesterday as our clients have been strongly been disadvantaged by these delays.

“It is costly on our clients; their careers and businesses are on hold, and this is why we have always persuaded other parties so that this matter is done as soon as possible, so that justice is served,” said Phiri.

When hearing starts the state will parade its witnesses.

Particulars of the case, as presented in court, show that the four directors allegedly received double payment of $325, 731 for the same work from the African Development Bank (ADB) under a Ministry of Agriculture project.

The ministry had awarded the company a K2.4 billion contract to construct, rehabilitate and expand gravity-fed water supply systems in Ntcheu district.

From a list of state witnesses filed to the court the ADB is not appearing anywhere on the list neither is it a complainant in the case.

However, disputes emerged between the company and government officials.

In 2019, the government terminated the contract on grounds of departure from specifications of the contract, defective works, failure to pay wages on time and delayed service to communities.

FISD Limited challenges the government’s decision.

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