Murder prisoner Misonzi Chanthunya has challenged his life imprisonment by requesting the Supreme Court of Appeal to overturn the sentence handed by the High Court in Zomba last month.
Chanthunya has filed a notice of appeal against both the conviction and sentence through the same court that jailed him for life.
He was found guilty of brutally murdering his Zimbabwean girlfriend, Linda Gasa, 25, in 2010 to allegedly conceal a pregnancy.
Defence lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta and High Court of Malawi and Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba confirmed the development, saying the notice was filed three weeks after Chanthunya was condemned to Zomba Prison.
“We filed the appeal on 25th September 2020 and we await finalisation of the appeal record by the registry before it is set down for hearing,” explained Chipeta in an interview.
Patemba said: “They have filed at Zomba High Court and it [the appeal] will be part of the record.”
Chanthunya was convicted of three offences of murder contrary to Section 209 of the Penal Code, smothering and hindering burial of a dead body contrary to Section 131 of the Penal Code and perjury contrary to Section 101 of the Penal Code.
Besides slapping him with a life sentence, Judge Ruth Chinangwa handed him a two-year jail term for the count of hindering burial of a dead body and another two years for perjury.
The judge ordered all the sentences to run concurrently since, she said, the acts of killing Gasa happened in a concurrent nature. His conviction and sentence came 10 years after the crime.
According to the notice of appeal to the registrar at High Court Zomba Registry, the murder convict argues that the High Court erred in finding that circumstantial evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that he caused the death of Gasa.
“The court’s judgement cannot be supported having regard to the evidence,” reads part of the grounds.
He also argues the High Court erred in finding that circumstantial evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that he committed the offence of hindering burial of a dead body and perjury.
Senior State advocate Steven Kayuni, who was also State lead lawyer in the case said he needed more time as he was not aware of any appeal by the murder convict.
During mitigation, Chipeta prayed for a 10-year-jail term arguing that Chanthunya was a first offender and he still maintains the upper court needs to overturn the life sentence.
But in an interview, the defence lawyer described the judgment as unfair arguing it was determined using certain facts that were never rendered in court as evidence.
“This is perhaps a clear testimony of unfair trial. The State filed an affidavit when actually the direction of the court was for the parties to send authorities, meaning that submissions were already made. When I applied to respond to the State’s submission, the court did not give us that opportunity,” Chipeta complained.
Chanthunya is believed to have murdered Gasa on or around August 4 2010 to conceal pregnancy.
He was arrested on September 21 2010.