‘Shift of perjury case to April 16 may affect Peter Mutharika’

The adjournment of the perjury case involving Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) acting President Peter Mutharika, Goodall Gondwe and Jean Kalirani to next Tuesday, April 16 may affect and prevent the party’s leader from attending the convention.

The adjournment, which reportedly sent party officials into panic and unplanned meetings, cast doubts that the indaba may not take place as planned.

The three on Wednesday appeared before the Lilongwe Magistrate Court, but could not take plea on the perjury charge.

The filing of the perjury charges marked the commencement of the trial of the case involving the young Mutharika and former ministers Henry Mussa, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Patricia Kaliati, Nicolas Dausi, former deputy chief secretary to government Necton Mhura, former presidential legal advisor Allan Ntata and former state house guard commander Duncan Mwapasa, according to spokesperson of the ministry of justice, Apoche Itimu.

Peter Mutharika: No plea yet
Peter Mutharika: No plea yet

They are alleged to have attempted to block President Joyce Banda’s ascendency to the Office of the resident after the death of former president late Bingu wa Mutharika in April last year.

Lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale representing the coup suspects faulted the state for transferring the case from the High Court to lower jurisdiction without following proper procedures; as such Magistrate Ruth Chinangwa could not proceed with hearing in the face of such irregularities.

Kaphale also said Director of Public Prosecution, Bruno Kalemba should have informed the Legal Committee of the Parliament to ensuring transparency on the matter.

While succumbing to the defence council’s concerns, Kalemba asked the court to look into the defence council’s arguments.

The case was then adjourned to April 16, a day before DPP convention where Mutharika will face Henry Chimuthu-Banda, Speaker of the National Assembly.

But politician Humphreys Mvula said the development could be a set back to the party considering that hearing of the case could go on for several days.

“The court cannot to be moved with the dates of the convention of a political party. The DPP has been drugged in awkward situation here because hearing could go several days to allow the state parade all the witnesses.

“The court can decide to summon the suspects and the witnesses on the dates the party is having the convention; who can object to that?” Mvula said in an interview Wednesday.

However, the party’s treasurer general Dr George Chaponda expressed optimism that the shift will not affect the convention and that there is no need for panic.

“If court proceedings will take place on 16th and 17th April the convention will not be affected as the main event on the 17th April is mostly arrival of delegates while the elections will take place on the 18th April, so we are not panicking,” said Chaponda.

He also said the party is closely monitoring the events surrounding the case that it should be not caught off guard.

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