Mukhito testifies before inquiry, ducks media

Inspector General of Malawi Police, Peter Mukhito, on Friday testified in Lilongwe at an inquiry into the July 20 protetst that left 20 people dead but journalists were barred to cover the proceedings.

It was announced that the Inspector General had asked not to give public testimony.

He faced scrutiny over the killing of 20 unarmed civilians by the security forces who used lethal force.

Mukhito: Demanded to testify privately

In Blantyre Commissioner of Police Rodney Jose admitted that the officers used live bullets to stop the protests. In the capital Lilongwe four people were shot dead.

Mukhito after his testimony refused to speak to a battery of reporters and sped off.

Reputation scarred

The Malawi Police chief is also implicated in the death of university student Robert Chasowa, a pro-democracy activist, whose inquiry is yet to be set up.

Nyasa Times source said Mukhito came out of the hearing with his “reputation scarred”.

The source said though the Police chief looked “heavily rehearsed”, he struggled to fend off questions.

During his testimony this week, Police Officer in Charge Evarson Saliwa said post-mortems had been conducted on all killed a claim which was dismissed when Kamuzu Central Hospital director Dr. Noorden Alide gave evidence that only one post-mortem was conducted.

“We had a total of 71 out patients treated at Kamuzu Central Hospital, out of these 19 had gun-shot wounds. One was brought in dead but we treated the other six but they died,” Alide said.

A 17-year-old boy Mpatso Victor also gave his testimony this week on how he was brutalised by the Malawi Police. He was shot in the knee and now lives with bullet.

The inquiry was appointed by President Bingu Wa Mutharika to investigate the deaths of 20 unarmed civilians during the protests which were organised to register disapproval with his leadership – a high cost of living, fuel shortages and human rights abuses.

It is headed by retired Catholic Bishop Felix Mkhori. Others include James Naphambo, former police officer Titus Thyolamwendo, Levi Mihowa and  Chris Yiannakis .

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