Chief Cashgate convict Oswald Lutepo and his wife Gertrude, through Blantyre-based legal firm Joe and Max Chambers, are demanding K1 billion from Times Media Group for damages after filing a libel suit in the High Court.
The Sunday Times, one of the titles for Times Media, reported on Sunday that the convict was allowed to have sex sessions with a woman on May 31 at Chichiri Prison.
According to documents that Nyasa Times has seen and titled ” Claim for One Billion Kwacha damages for libel’, Lutepo has denied the claims, noting that the article in question aimed at preventing Lutepo from having his jail term reduced on account of good behaviour.
Lawyer Joseph Kamkwasi said Lutepo and his wife “deny having had sexual intercourse at the penal institution” and state that they are fully aware that sexual intercourse is not permissible in Malawi prisons and “such instructions were fully communicated by the authorities when Mr. Oswald Lutepo commenced his jail term.”
The legal firm has since given Times Media Group, also publishers of The Daily Times and Malawi News, seven days to respond.
“We find the publication of your article repugnant to journalistic ethics as Mr. Lutepo was not contacted for his side of the story. We do not believe that prisoners have no rights to their reputation.
“We therefore have instructions to claim from you the sum of One Billion Malawi Kwacha being damages for libel on the footing of aggravated damage.
“Should we not get any positive response from you within 7 days from the date hereof, we have instructions to commence legal proceeding in the High Court without any further recourse to you whatsoever where over and above the amount claimed herein you shall be condemned to pay our costs,”reads the document signed by Kamkwasi.
Lutepo is serving a 11 year jail term with hard labour (IHL) after being convicted for conspiracy to defraud government and money laundering K4.2 billion, in September, 2015.
The sentence was handed down to him by the Zomba High Court but Lutepo is appealing against Judge Redson Kapindu’s sentence, arguing he was betrayed by the State and that Judge Kapindu disregarded his positive testimony in the trial and concentrated on the negative aspects of his case.