No bail for activists, charged with sedition

A Magistrate, who was supposed to determine bail application for five activists being held in connection with a peaceful protest in the capital Lilongwe , did not show up for the ruling and police took them back in their custody.

The five – Billy Mayaya, Habiba Osman a lawyer with the development NGO Norwegian Church Aid, as well as Brian Nyasulu, Ben Chiza Mkandawire and Comfort Chitseko have been held since last Friday.

Lawyer Wapona Kita said he went to court to apply for bail for the activists.

Chiza Mkandawire: Detained

“We did a bail application this morning before one magistrate whom we were later told she only had instructions to hear the application but that the ruling would be made before another magistrate,” Kita told Nyasa Times.

“When we went in the afternoon for the ruling, we have been told that she was far away and would only make it tomorrow at 2:00pm.”

Kita is joined in the case by lawyer  Ralph Kasambara whereas the prosecution is being handled by the Director of Prosecutions in the Malawi Police service Mr Mkandawire.

They have been charged with two counts, conducting illegal demonstrations and sedition.

“We have asked the court to strike off the sedition count because it can only be prosecuted with the Consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions which at present has not been issued,” said Kita.

The activists are accused on not obtaining permission for the protest, as required under the Police Act.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International o Monday said there are concerns that Nyasulu has been denied access to medical treatment for diabetes while in detention.

The group called on Malawian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the activists.

The activists were arrested on Friday after taking part in a small demonstration urging President Bingu wa Mutharika to hold a referendum calling for an early election.

They also demanded the resignation of Police Inspector General Peter Mukhito, and called for an investigation into his alleged involvement in the death of student activist Robert Chasowa last month.

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