Vigil at prison, Jurists Commission condemns ‘arbitary arrests’

Family relations and friends of caged former Attorney-General Ralph Kasambara say from Friday they will be holding a vigil protests outside the gates of Zomba Maximum Prison in the eastern city of Zomba, 70 kilometres east of Blantyre.

Outspoken president of the Chancellor College Academic Staff Union in the city, Dr. Jesse Kabwila-Kapasula, says people will camp outside Zomba Maximum Prison to conduct prayers  in solidarity with the human rights lawyers.

Kasambara also teaches in the faculty of law at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi.

Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula: Solidarity

Jabwila-Kapasula said they are calling on  Malawian authorities to comply immediately with a court order to free Kasambara

Meanwhile, the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has expressed “grave concern” at what it called “Malawian authorities’ arbitrary arrest and continued detention” of  Kasambara “despite being granted bail by the courts”.

The commission says it is particularly concerned that the police of Malawi would blatantly disregard an order of a court, due process and the principles of international fair trial standards.

In a statement, Arnold Tsunga, Director of the Johannesburg-based ICJ Africa Regional Programme, said such actions”show contempt for the rule of law and the protection of human rights, which further taints the already compromised human rights record of Malawi”.

He said: “When the state authorities themselves compromise and undermine it, the floodgates of defiance against it and against respect for human rights are opened.”

Kasambara was arrested Monday when he went to report a botched attack against himself. He was instead detained alongside his five associates and charged with the kidnapping and torture of the perpetrators who had sought to torch his offices.

Kasambara, President Mutharika’s first Attorney General, successfully applied for bail on Tuesday but police refused to honour it.

When he was eventually released on bail on Wednesday he was quickly re-arrested and moved from Chichiri Maximum Prison in Blantyre to Zomba Maximum Prison in the eastern city of Zomba, some 70 kilometres east of Blantyre.—(Additional reporting by Pana)

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