Jury selected in Chilumpha’s treason trial

A twelve member jury and two alternatives have been selected in the case in which Malawi government is prosecuting former vice-president Dr Cassim Chilumpha and businessman Yusuf Matumula MP on charges of treason and conspiracy to murder.

The process of selecting the jury took place in the High Court in Blantyre before trial judge Ken Manda.

Justice Manda advised the jurors to take the matter seriously and avoid discussing it outside their group.

Thomas Elias Ndlovu, a Malawian living in South Africa, and Graham Minnaar, a former South African intelligence operative — are witnesses for the prosecution.

Chilumpha: Pleaded not guilty

Chilumpha, through Matumula, is alleged to have hired Ndlovu and Minnaar to carry out the murder but, according to the account that emerges from their affidavits filed in court.

The two alerted the Malawi authorities and then played along with the plot to gather more evidence against the alleged conspirators.

In the affidavit Minnaar states: “Thomas informed me that he had met with the vice-president of Malawi, Dr Cassim Chilumpha, at his Mudi residence on January 20 2006. At this meeting the vice-president had personally requested Thomas to arrange the assassination of Malawi President .”

Meanwhile, lawyer Mr. Kalekeni Kaphale  who dumped Chilumpha due to contractual disagreements has re-applied to resume his role in the matter.

Malawi government prosecution team is headed by London-based QC Anthony Berry

Chilumpha was arrested on April 28 2006 when he was vice-president to Wa Mutharika in his first term between 2004 and 2009 and was accused of treason and plotting to assassinate the president by engaging a professional assassin. He allegedly promised the hit man millions of dollars worth of government contracts once he succeeded  Wa  Mutharika.

President Wa Mutharika tried to sack Chilumpha earlier, saying he was being disrespectful and was absconding from cabinet and government meetings. But the dismissal was overturned by the court which said the president had no constitutional powers to sack his deputy.

Chilumpha and Matumula who are both MPs have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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