Muluzi seeks compensation for false imprisonment

Malawi’s former president Bakili Muluzi is seeking compensation from government for false imprisonment, physical inconvenience and defamation following his arrest in 2008 on coup plot allegations.

Malawi government already compensated former army head of intelligence, Brigadier General Cosgrave Mituka, and Major General Mathews Chirwa who were arrested on the same coup plot saga.

Government also compensated former army commander late Joseph Chimbayo and former Inspector-General of police Joseph Aironi, both were arrested  on same allegations for plotting to overthrow the government.

Muluzi: Seeks damages

Muluzi, through Kalekeni Kaphale law firm, has written the Attorney General Maxon Mbendera to seek compensation.

In the letter dated 17 January 2010 obtained by Nyasa Times, the lawyers acting on Muluzi’s behalf said the purpose of the letter is “to give statutory notice” that  Muluzi would take legal action against the Malawi government should the claim not be admitted and settled within the notice period.

Reads the letter: “Early in the year 2008, our client (Muluzi) travelled to the United Kingdom for medical; treatment and whilst there he heard that President Mutharika had addressed a public rally in Nkhatabay where among other things he alleged that there were some people who were planning to overthrow his government. Within some days some serving and retired police and military officers were arrested and detained. Among those arrested were also some UDF senior party leaders.”

The letter says it was also rumoured that Muluzi was among those to be arrested and the arrest would take place upon his arrival in Malawi.

“On 24th May, 2006, [Muluzi] left London for Malawi. Upon his arrival by Air Malawi flight via Kamuzu international Airport on 25th MAY, 2008  he was confronted by Police Officers who informed him that he was under arrest and that he would be flown by a military aircraft to Blantyre where he would be questioned.

“He tried to plead with them that he had travelled all night from London and that he had a house in Area 9 where he needed to go and have some rest or that they should take him to any Police Station in Lilongwe where their questioning would take place. They refused.”

The letter adds: “There were lots of people at the airport in Lilongwe that had come to welcome him and who witnessed his arrest and humiliation. The arrest was broadcast live on television and several radio stations presented a live coverage of the whole affair. Further, later that day he had been scheduled to address a meeting of the United Democratic Front at Area 25 in Lilongwe and the people that gathered to attend the meeting were informed of his predicament and the reasons for his arrest. He failed to fulfill that engagement.”

The letter informs the Attorney general that the former president who ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004 was then taken into a Malawi army plane and flown to Blantyre under police escort.

“On arrival at Chileka Airport they refused him to go into his personal car. They drove him in a Police Pajero to his BCA Hill Residence where he was put under house arrest. His house was thoroughly searched in the full view of his family and members of staff. They obviously found nothing in the process. His house was henceforth surrounded by armed policemen, thereby attracting the attention and curiosity of his neighbours.”

The lawyers said Muluzi was a few days later taken to the High Court where the police failed to convince the court as to why he should be under house arrest. He was given bail and the case never proceeded, the letter noted.

The Attorney General is informed that the people who were arrested on the same allegation like him have all been compensated or have sued government.

Kaphale in the letter said Muluzi as former Head of State and leader of UDF at that time, suffered “total embarrassment and humiliation.”

He noted that his arrest was capture by all local and international media “causing untold loss of confidence by the people trusted him”.

Attorney general chambers confirmed receipt of the letter.

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