Malawi government will not drop charges against former president Bakili Muluzi and wants it to get to logical conclusion despite giving him back several vehicles which the State had impounded in 2009 on suspicion that they were bought using corruption earnings.
Muluzi and his then personal assistant, Violet Whisky, are accused of diverting K1.7 billion allegedly public funds into Muluzi’s personal account.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) spokesperson Egrita Ndala said the bureau was not dropping the case, but was preparing for an appearance at the Constitutional Court in February.
The former president argued when he was arrested that the charges amounted to “political persecution”.
Muluzi stepped down as president after serving two terms in office in 2004.
His lawyer, Tamanda Chokotho, told High Court that he wanted the case to go to the Constitutional Court as per Rule 8(1) of the Courts (High Court) (Procedure on the interpretation of Application of the Constitution) Rule as he felt the issues being raised in the case are constitutional in nature.
Chokotho claimed that Muluzi’s hand-picked successor, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, interfered with the operations of ACB by ordering his arrest on corruption charges when ACB had no intention to carry out the arrest.
It is on record with a leaked audio clip that late Mutharika ordered former ACB director Gustav Kaliwo to “shake up” Muluzi.
Chokotho also argued that the case was politically-motivated because Muluzi—who was head of State between 1994 and 2004—was continuously being harassed by arresting him. Muluzi was also arrested on trumped up treason trial at the airport when he arrived from UK. He is seeking compensation on that.
The lawyer also questioned the conduct of the offices of the ACB and the Attorney General (AG) in the matter.
“Did the former AG and director of ACB’s conduct to fabricate evidence against the accused not undermine the accused’s right to a fair trial as provided for in Section 42[f] of the Constitution?” queried Chokhotho.
Accoridng to Ndala, the case is coming again in February, 2016, when the High Court will hear from Muluzi’s lawyers and ACB on the application that the matter be referred to the Chief Justice for the Chief Justice to certify it as a constitutional matter and then refer it to the Constitutional Court for determination.
“Both parties were given 21 days to prepare and file their submissions, beginning with Dr. Muluzi’s lawyers as the applicants and then serve those submissions on the State and the court. The bureau is still waiting for those submissions to be served on it by Dr. Muluzi’s lawyers,” said Ndala.
Muluzi’s case started in 2009 and has now taken about six years due to numerous adjournments mainly attributed to the former president’s illness and objections from the defense.
Government already had given Muluzi back over 60 vehicles which ACB seized from him in 2009. According to ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba, the vehicles were really “deteriorating” hence an out-of-court agreement between anti-graft body and Muluzi lawyers led to the release of the vehicles earlier this year.
The agreement was subsequently validated by court consent, Matemba disclosed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :