The State has said it will not prosecute United Transformation Movement (UTM) social- media activist Manes Winnie Hale on charges of insulting President Peter Mutharika and has entered a discontinuance in the matter before Lilongwe Magistrate Court.
Hale, 44, well known on Facebook with the name ‘Abiti Manice Dawood’ was arrested last week at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe when she was about to catch a flight back to the US where she is based and works as a nurse in Maryland.
Police took her to court where she was formally charged for a colonial-era insult law, which quotes heavy fines and up to two years in jail for those who air or publish material that insults or disrespects the President.
Hale pleaded “not guilty” to a charge of ‘publishing some writings [on Facebook] making reference to the president as being a liar, a thief and being demented.”
The offence is covered in Section 4 of the Pebal Code.
However, her lead attorney Dr Chikosa Silungwe said the charges were frivolous or vexatious.
Manice trial had been due to begin on September 6 before Mangistrate Viva Nyimba but on Monday prosecution applied before the court for the discontinue of the case.
This then means Abiti Manice is free and can proceed to her base in the US.
She has claimed to be related to the Mutharikas, saying her mother was a sister to the late first lady Ethel, who was the late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s first wife.
Her arrest comes within days of President Mutharika publicly stating that Section 4 of the Protected Flag, Emblems and Names Act could be used to prosecute those he accused of insulting him.
Patricia Kaliati, a UTM interim secretary general, described Hale’s arrest as political retribution.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :