Masangwi, others bail ruling Friday: Chasowa murder case Malawi

The High Court in Blantyre has set Friday this week as to when it will decide on whether to grant bail or not to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor for the South Noel Masangwi and five others on their connection with the murder of Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa last year.

The High Judge Sylvester Kalembela told a jam-packed court after the lawyer representing Masangwi and others; Kalekeni Kaphale applied for a release of his clients.

Kaphale argued in his application that the State was trying to build up case against his clients without clearly evidence that they committed the crime.

The defence lawyer wondered how 14 people named in the Chasowa Inquiry would commit one murder case as indicated in the report, arguing the State rushed to arrest his clients despite not through with investigations on the matter.

Masangwi: Remains on remand

In its submission, the State asked the court not to grant the suspects bail on conditions that they might jeopardise the investigations currently underway.

Judge Kalembela adjourned the case to Friday November 2, 2012 for his ruling on whether the suspects should be freed on bail or not.

Drama at Court

However, the case was not short of drama as DP supporters, majority being women, chanted songs at the court.

At some point the supporters held prayers while singing spiritual songs, asking for God’s interventions in the case.

They asked God to help Masangwi and others to be given bail by he court and that they should be safe while in police custody.

DPP supporters clad in party colours chanted: “Masangwi atuluke, Masangwi atuluke”.

Murder suspects

Masangwi, whosurrendered himself to police on Wednesday morning last week and others were on Thursday formally charged at Blantyre Magistrate Court with murder – which carries a maximum sentence of death.

Police said so far 10 people have been arrested in connection with the murder.

Geoff  Botomani, 28, and his accomplice Petros  Tembo,30, were nabbed by police on July 17 on allegations that they took part in the murder of Chasowa and have remained on remand since then.

On Wednesday, police arrested five others—DPP SouthernRegion youth director Lewis Ngalande, police officer Stanford Horea, businessperson and boxing promoter Mike Chitenje, Stone Mwamande and Sam Chulu.

Two more suspects – Frank Julius and Isaac Osman (Ntompwa 1)  -were nabbed on Thursday.

Background

Chasowa, who studied engineering, was found dead at a college campus in Blantyre in September last year. Police said he had jumped to his death from a five-storey building and produced bogus suicide notes as evidence.

But a Justice Andrew Nyirenda-led inquiry ordered by President Joyce Banda, who succeeded Bingu wa  Mutharika after his death in April, rule that Chasowa had in fact been murdered.

President Banda promised that the culprits would “face the full wrath of the law”.

Chasowa, the chairman of a student activist group, Youth for Democracy (YFD), had published anti-Mutharika government leaflets before his death.

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