Malawi Law Society (MLS) has described as punitive bail conditions given to some suspects in the shooting of Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo last month.
MLS president Mandala Mambulasa said at a news conference that bail conditions are not supposed to be punitive but rather to ensure that the accused person will be available for trial.
One of the suspects in the shooting of Mphwiyo which is linked to the infamous Capital Hill Cashgate Oswald Lutepo was ordered to pay a bail bond of K50 million and former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara K500 000.
“Of course we do appreciate that our courts are usually busy and seized with many matters, but issues of personal liberty and rights of individuals should perhaps be prioritized.
“The courts would also do well to remember that every accused person is, under our Constitution, presumed innocent until the contrary has been proved against him or her or until he or she pleads guilty. We believe that when that is done, the perception that cashgate suspects are being punished before conviction will no longer be there,” said Mambulasa.
Mambulasa also spoke against long detention of suspects apparently referring to Kasambara who was kept for 44 days but was saved by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The lawyers body also pointed out that law may raise many legal challenges with the set up of a Forfeiture Unit under the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) or enacting a Forfeiture Act to deal with cashgate property.
The MLS president also faulted President Joyce Banda on a statement she made publicly that receiving stolen property, or being found in possession of property suspected to have been unlawfully obtained is not theft.
“The State President is, therefore, wrong for suggesting that those that received property or funds that was stolen or unlawfully obtained have no case to answer,” Mambulasa said.
Mambulasa addressed the news conference in the company of four other MLS members.