Malawi judge frees on bail 3 suspects in Mphwiyo shooting

High Court Judge Esmies Chombo , who has given the state 30 days to complete their investigations before releasing former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara, on Friday released on bail three suspects arrested by Malawi Police in connection with the shooting of budget director Paul Mphwiyo.

The talking point in the order of release for the three suspects  Dauka Manondo, Macdonald Kumwembe and Ronald Kadzuwa is that the reason for not releasing Kasambara – that investigations are still underway  – has been quashed in respect of the three persons and yet they are all answering the same case.

In her determination, Justice Chombo noted that the fact that one has been committed to High Court is not in itself conclusive evidence that the State is ready and willing to commence proceedings.

Macdonald Kumwembe and Ronald Kadzuwa: Freed on bail
Macdonald Kumwembe and Ronald Kadzuwa: Freed on bail

The Judge  said the State should have secured from the court the date or likely period within which prosecution will be done.

She said: “The State submitted that ‘the applicant will be tried in the shortest time.’ But this could mean anything, and indeed nothing; in certain circumstances. The applicants herein were arrested on or around 16th September 2013 and no prosecution has yet been commenced.

“The fact that Section 161 F of the Criminal Procedure & Evidence Code provides that a suspect can be legally detained for 60 days after committal to enable the State complete investigations  is not cast  in iron.   Where  the  State  has  not shown what the investigations, if any, are going on, to justify the 60 day detention the court will have no basis for extending such detention. It is my strongest conviction that where the state has submitted evidence of any such investigations the court can be in a position to extend the period accordingly.”

Justice Chombo  rejected  the State’s submission for extension of time and granted bail to the suspects.

She however imposed bail conditions of bail bond in the sum of K250,000.00 cash  and each applicant is to secure two sureties and each surety is to pay into court K1250,000.00 cash

The court also order the applicants to surrender their passports or documents of travel to court before being released on bail and that they  will be reporting to Lilongwe Police station every Wednesday before noon except if coming to court on same day.

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