Malawi cashgate trial starts Jan 29

Trial of the suspects in the infamous cashgate scandal is scheduled to start on January 29, 2014 when two female suspects appear before the Lilongwe High Court.

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson, Apoche Itimu, said investigations into the matter were in the final stages and the first to appear before the court are Caroline Savala and Angela Katengeza.

The two suspects pleaded not guilty to charges of theft and money laundering when they appeared before the same court late last year.

Katengeza and Savala own construction companies and are accused of receiving K84.9 million and K105.9 million respectively from government for services they did not provide.

Caroline Savala: Pleaded not guilty
Caroline Savala: Pleaded not guilty

Savala, who was arrested alongside her relation Laura (accused of siphoning K160.6 million through the Ministry of Tourism) is being represented by Ralp Kasambara law firm.

“We are in the final stages of the investigations and we have started serving some of the disclosures and two of the cashgate cases will be starting the trials from 29th of January, 2014.

“The two suspects will be appearing for the actual trial that will be delivered before the Lilongwe High Court,” said Itimu.

She said once the disclosures have been served they wait for an expiry of 21 days before proceeding to begin the trials.

Government is believed to have lost about K110 billion through Capital Hill looting notoriously referred to as the cashgate scandal.

Several other suspects including ruling People’s Party (PP) members and senior government officers arrested in connection to the scandal are currently on bail.

Meanwhile, some Malawians have called for amnesty for cashgate suspects who admit wrongdoing and return government resources which they stole within a specified period.

Contributing to a debate on the plundering of government resources organised by the pro-government Forum for National Development (FND) in Lilongwe Thursday night, the people said amnesty would ensure government saves its already little resources which it would have used in prosecuting all the cases.

But lawyer Justine Dzonzi who was one of the panelists said legally amnesty was not possible for the country.

He, however, indicated that the courts could use the mitigation factor if one accepted wrong doing.

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