Forum wants Mutharika arrested for ‘fooling courts’ on illness

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President, Peter Mutharika, who is cracking under the weight of an eligibility contest to his presidential aspirations, must be arrested for contempt of court,  according to leaders of the Forum for National Development (FND) Bright Kampaundi and Fyson Chodzi.

The FND leaders say Mutharika must be prosecuted for telling lies to the court.

The two civic leaders said Mutharika conceded publicly that he lied to court when he denied that he never went to the United States of America because he was sick as he had claimed in his application to the court to allow him to travel.

Peter Mutharika: He told the cort he wanted to seek medical help
Peter Mutharika: He told the cort he wanted to seek medical help
Kampaundi: Mutharika is in contempt
Kampaundi: Mutharika is in contempt

As part of his bail conditions, Mutharika surrendered his travel documents to the courts and is required to always seek its permission whenever he wants to make a foreign trip.

On three occasions, including the trip he made recently, Mutharika told the courts that he wanted to travel in search for medical attention.

But when asked during a news conference when he returned from the US to confirm if he were unwell (on the basis of his applications to the courts), Mutharika denied having made the trip for medical attention.

He assertingly said he only travelled to have his lenses replaced and also took advantage of his presence in that country to visit his family and do some work for his party.

“If this is not contempt of court, what is it? You write the court that you are unwell and you want to travel to receive medical attention. The court grants your request. But when you return, you deny being sick.

“My interpretation is that he was saying he fooled the courts. By saying he went to visit family and do some party work, he was saying our courts are stupid and can be fooled with impunity,” said Kampaundi, who is the national chairman of FND. He was quoted in a local newspaper, The Sun.

“As a presidential aspirant, a legislator and a lawyer, Professor Mutharika should be the first to demonstrate that our courts must be respected. He can’t declare publicly that he is free to tell lies to the courts and get away with it. It sends out a wrong signal. It has a potential of opening a Pandora box by which everyone will start holding the courts in contempt,” he is quoted to have said.

He said he believed Mutharika’s statement was enough basis for his arrest and review of his bail conditions.

Concurring with Kampaundi, FND National Coordinator, Chodzi, said that when national leaders are allowed to fool the courts, there will be nothing that will be left of the judiciary’s integrity.

“I am surprised that it’s been several weeks since he acknowledged cheating the courts to buy his exit and nothing is being done to demonstrate that the courts will not be taken for granted,” wondered Chodzi.

“Does this mean that Mutharika is bigger than the courts? Would everyone lie to the courts and left scot-free? Why is Mutharika being treated differently?” he wondered in an interview on Monday.

Mutharika’s personal assistant Ben Phiri dismissed the calls by the FND, saying they were compromised activists.

“Kampaundi and his friends are on ruling PP’s payroll to fight against Mutharika but they will be embarrassed because he will not be stopped on his way to be the new tenant at State House,” said Phiri.

But the two civic leaders insist Mutharika should be censured legally on grounds that he held the courts in contempt.

Chodzi called on the judiciary to be vigilant and alert when attending to applications for leave from suspects on bail to avoid being taken for a ride.

“Claims of being unwell from suspects must be endorsed by independent medical personal appointed by the courts before they are granted,” Chodzi explained.

Mutharika is on bail for treason and perjury in respect of allegations that he colluded with others to prevent President Joyce Banda, as Vice President, to succeed his brother, late Bingu wa Mutharika, by staging a lie that he was still live when he was long dead in order to buy time to mobilise capacities to stage a coup.

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