The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and business mogul Thom Mpinganjira are yet to reach an agreement on plea bargaining, eight days after defence lawyers asked the High Court in Blantyre for the arrangement before starting the judge bribery case trial.
The development has led the court to start trial in which Mpinganjira is accused of attempting to bribe the Constitutional Court judges allegedly to rule in favour of former president Peter Mutharika in the one or some of the counts of a multi-count indictment in return for a lighter sentence than the possible for a graver charge.”
Due to the stalemate, the court, on Friday went ahead to hear testimony from first State witness Justice Mike Tembo, who was among the five judges that presided over the presidential election case.
Justice Tembo began testifying that Mpinganjira contacted him in an attempt to bribe the five Constitutional Court judges.
He played two phone call recordings as part of his evidence. In one of the recordings, the business tycoon is allegedly asking Tembo to help in fulfilling the mission of bribing the judges.
The Supreme Court of Appeal judge went further to tell the court that he personally knows Mpinganjira because they congregate together. The judge also read some of the printed WhatsApp conversations in which Mpinganjira alleged that [politician] Brown Mpinganjira has been meeting Justice Lovemore Chikopa on the matter.
In the text, Mpinganjira claimed that some DPP officials have been releasing money to the judges and he wanted to find out if that money was reaching him.
When Justice Tembo was playing the phone call recording, Nkhono claimed that the audio was not audible. But Justice DeGabrielle told the court that all the audios will be transcribed.
Before adjourning the case to November 12, DeGabrielle restored Mpinganjira’s bail and threatened that she will revoke it again if the accused person misbehaves while on bail.
Mpinganjira, who resigned as FDH Holdings Limited chairperson, was arrested in January this year and is among others, answering charges under the Corruption Practice Act such as offering an advantage to a public officer, attempting to induce public officers to exercise functions of their offices corruptly and purportedly attempting to influence public officers by offering K100 million to Constitutional Court judges.