High Court Judge Micheal Mtambo has ruled against application which lawyer for businessperson Oswald Lutepo made for the state to bear the costs of his case after he was formally discharged in the attempted murder former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
The court determined that the prosecution had failed to provide sufficient evidence to implicate Lutepo, Robert Kadzuwa and Dauka Manondo in the conspiracy to commit murder charges they were facing.
Lutepo’s lawyer Osward Ntupila asked for a financial settlement to compensate for all his legal costs in the case, accusing the prosecution for wrongful dragging his client into tthe Mphwiyo shooting case.
But Justice Mtambo dismissed the application, saying it would be senseless for the court to award Lutepo costs for being wrongfully added to the case when he was answering monetary-related charges of theft and money laundering..
“It is through my discretion that it’s a matter of public knowledge that Lutepo is answering charges of money laundering amounting to billions so it’s senseless for the court to award some money to such a person. I, therefore, decline to award the costs,” the Judge ruled.
Lutepo is facing theft and money laundering charges amounting to K3.1 billion, tax evasion and perjury.
In another application to court, lawyer for acquitted Kadzuwa, Wapona Kita also applied that the State should return the K2 million cash which was confiscated from his client at Bvumbwe.
Director of Public Prosecution, Mary Kachale, objected to the application, saying the money hangs in balance since another suspect Macdonald Kumwembe, who Mphwiyo identified as the one who shot him, has been found with the case to answer.
However, Kita said in Kadzuwa’s caution statement shows that he is the owner of the money, which the state concluded it was payment of the shooting plot.
Kadzuwa and Kumwembe reportedly told the investigators that they stole the money from a stationary vehicle at Blantyre Shoprite but when they were taken to the scene separately they pointed at different spots.
“The two being found sharing the money which they might have stolen somewhere is a mere conjecture,” said the judge.
Justice Mtambo then ruled that Kita should make a formal application on the issue.
The court found former Malawi Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara has case to answer on the charge of conspiracy to murder Mphwiyo
Two others, Pika Manondo and Kumwembe will also answer charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
This means on May 22, Kasambara, Pika Manondo and Kumwembe, will start defending themselves to prove their innocence in the shooting of Mphwiyo on September 13 2013.
During the trial, prosecution paraded lead investigator in the case, Assistant Superintendent Kankwala Chilinda, Kasambara’s former maid, Jesse Mussa, Doctors Carlos Varera and Hetherwick Ntaba and Mphwiyo’s guard among others.
The testimony and call logs submitted as evidence from Airtel Malawi may have influenced the decision to have Kasambara, Manondo and Kumwembe remaining on the conspiracy to commit murder charge sheet as it showed that the three were constantly communicating prior to and after the shooting occurred.
“Although the first accused [Kumwembe] said he was in Mozambique [at the time of the shooting], Airtel evidence puts him in Lilongwe on the day of the shooting. In cross-examination, it was implied that he left the phone with his wife, but could his wife have been criss-crossing the country, communicating with friends of the first accused person and sending messages showing panic with friends of the husband? Evidence also shows that the first and third accused persons [Pika] were in communication prior to and after the shooting,” Mtambo said.
He added: “I find that the State has made out a prima facie case on the first accused person requiring him to enter defence.”
Mphwiyo was shot outside his home on September 13 2013, an event which seemed to have unravelled the massive plunder of government resources at Capital Hill later dubbed Cashgate.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :