High Court rejects bail plea for Chasowa murder suspects

Two men suspected of playing a role in the murder of fourth-year Malawi Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa were on Tuesday denied bail by the High Court sitting in Blantyre.

In his brief ruling, Justice Maclean Kamwambe observed that the prosecuting authority succeeded in establishing a ‘strong link’ between the suspects – Geoffrey Bottoman and Peter Petros Tembo -and the decease’s death.

“The police has established a strong link between the applicants and the death of the deceased. They has established that the applicants took the deceased from his base at the Polytechnic College to an unknown place where they brutally assaulted the deceased, killed him and dumped him at the Polytechnic in the early hours of September 24, 2011 to make it appear as if he committed suicide,” ruled Kamwambe.

Lawyer Chancy Gondwe: To appeal

Serious offence

The Judge pointed out that murder is a serious offence requiring severe punishment . He said the court would not risk to release suspects on bail as they may flee from justice to delay the trial in the case.

“There are witnesses who were aware of the applicants’ activities concerning the deceased. The applicants were on the run outside the jurisdiction for some months until their resources dwindled and when they came back they were arrested.

“Basing on these grounds I’m convinced that the police have acquired strong links between the applicants and the offence and this coupled with the fact that the offence of murder is a very serious offence requiring a severe punishment, it would, in my view be unwise to release the them on bail, more so when investigations are still underway considering the complexity of this case….” ruled Kamwambe.

Appeal option

However, the ruling as expected did not please the defense attorney Chancy Gondwe of Chagwanjila Lawyers and Company who told Nyasa Times soon after the ruling that he would be appealing the verdict.

Gondwe still maintained that the prosecution team has failed to provide concrete evidence linking the two to the murder of Chasowa.

“I will discuss with clients on the ruling and possibly I will leave for Supreme Court to file for an appeal,” said.

Gondwe added: “ The only complexity to this issue is that it is strongly based on hearsays and not facts so I will argue that in the upper court.”

Suspects on remand

The two suspects G Botomani, 28, and his accomplice Tembo,30, were nabbed by police on July 17 on allegations that they took part in the murder of Chasowa and have remained on remand since then.

Chasowa’s killing tainted late Bingu wa Mutharika led administration’s human rights record and president Mrs. Joyce Banda soon after taking over, following death of her predecessor, promised Malawians that deciphering the Chasowa murder puzzle is one of her personal priorities.

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