Malawi hires private lawyers to prosecute coup plotters

Government has hired private lawyers, Ralph Mhone and Fahad Assani to prosecute 11 Malawian politicians accused of plotting to hijack the nomination of President Joyce Banda.

The 11 are DPP acting president Professor Peter Mutharika, DPP officials Patricia Kaliati, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Nicholas Dausi, Henry Mussa, Symon Vuwa Kaunda and Jean Kalilani. The others are Economic Planning Minister, Goodall Gondwe, former guard commander, Duncan Mwapasa, Necton Mhura and fired State Chief Secretary, Bright Msaka.

In an interview,  Assan –former Director of Public Prosecution – while confirming the appointment reffered the issue to Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) who is thier employer.

DPP Bruno Kalemba could not pick up his phone but one of the lawyers representing Mutharika and others, Chancy Gondwe also comfirmed Assan and Mhone have been hired as private prosecutors.

Assani: Hired to prosecute alleged coup plotters
Assani: Hired to prosecute alleged coup plotters

”The DPP in a meeting we had with him disclosed Fahad and Mhone will represent government. Meanwhile, the docket is ready and we will apply for bail tomorrow (Wednesday) morning,” Gondwe said.

Gondwe said efforts to have bail application heard Tuesday proved futile as the authorities played “mind games” on the issue.

According to documents, Mutharika and others were expected to be in court on Thursday at Lilongwe High Court on treason but due to the change of charges the cases will be prosecuted at Lilongwe Magistrates Court where the 11 will be formally charged.

Mutharika currently inceserated at Lumbazi police is expected to be charged with two counts of perjury and Soliciting to break the law contrary to Section 124 of the Constitution.

While Kaliati, Mussa, Dausi, Nankhumwa, Kaunda, Kalilani, Gondwe and Msaka have been charged of conspiring to break the law.

The 11 are being represented by a team of five lawyers which include Kalekeni Kaphale, Chancy Gondwe and Noel Chalamanda.

The plot is alleged to have taken place amid the chaos of Bingu wa Mutharika’s death in April last year.

Last week an inquest ruled that Mutharika died of a heart attack on the way to hospital after collapsing at the State House.

But his death was not confirmed for two days and his body was flown to South Africa as would-be successors sought to buy time.

Six ministers, including then local government minister Henry Mussa, held a late-night news conference a day after Mutharika’s death to insist he was still alive.

Under the constitution, Banda was next in line to become president. But Mutharika had been grooming his brother Peter to succeed him.

Banda was eventually sworn in on April 7, after backroom dealings.

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