Private lawyers hired by the State to prosecute the high profile treason case against former cabinet ministers and top government officials have slapped government with a multi-million kwacha legal bill.
One of the lawyers, former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Fashad Assani, confirmed that he is asking government to pay K6.3 million for his service.
“Do you expect us to work for free? We have indeed communicated to our client our bill but i think the Ministry of Justice is the best authority to comment on the matter because they are the public office and we are private practice,” said Assani as quoted by Daily Times.
“However, let me confirm that based on the contract we signed, I am expecting to get K6.3 million for the work i have done so far. We agreed that we will be paid for any work on the case at K25 000 per hour which includes costs for paper work and professional fees, so you can work out how much this is,” said Assani.
The other private practice lawyers hired for the case include Ishmael Wadi and Ralph Mhone.
With the cases stalling and expected to be protracted at Magistrates and High Courts, the government is now expected to spend huge amounts of money on legal fees.
However, while neither confirming nor denying the amounts, Attoney General Anthony Kamanga told the paper his office would discuss with the lawyers on the figures and said that no lawyer has been paid yet.
“Yes, there are bills but no one has been paid yet. The receipts are not itemised so we will discuss. Even in a case where bills are high, the government and the lawyers can discuss and even if we din’t agree; there is always the option of going to the Registrar to say how much we are supposed to pay in this case. Unfortunately i cannot comment further,” said Kamanga.
After the arrests, the government justified the hiring of private practice lawyers, saying the move was due to inadequate staff at the Ministry of Justice.
Among the top officials being prosecuted in the high profile cases are DPP president Peter Mutharika, former Economic Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe and former Chief Secretary to the Government, Bright Msaka.
Others are former ministers Henery Mussa, Vuwa Kaunda, Jean Kalirani, Patricia Kaliati, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Nicholas Dausi and former government officials Necton Mhura and Allan Ntata who remains at large.
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