Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal is set to certify the murder case of Robert Chasowa, a former fourth-year engineering student at the Polytechnic, before it goes for a judicial review.
The development follows an application by two suspects in the criminal proceedings—first defendant Petros Tembo and second defendant Geoffrey Doff Botoman—to have their case discharged.
The duo argues that the State had no evidence against them as indicated by the continued delays to commence trial.
But Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, who is the only person allowed by the law to certify a case, recused himself because of the unusual situation he was found in having chaired the Commission of Inquiry that led to the arrest of the suspects. He delegated Supreme Court judge Edward Twea to handle the matter.
But due to other issues, Twea referred the case back to the Chief Justice who last week summoned lawyers for the applicants and respondents for “some clarifications” before the certification is made.
Private practice lawyer Ambokire Salimu, representing the applicants for discharge, confirmed in an interview the summoning by the Chief Justice and the reference of the matter back to the Supreme Court.
He said: “The Chief Justice summoned both sides on Wednesday because there were one or two issues he wanted clarifications on and the matter has now been referred back to the Supreme Court.
“Since he recused himself, the Chief Justice will have to send the case to the second most senior judge at the court for certification. So, we will wait for communication from the court as to when proceedings will take place.”
Salimu said Tembo and Bottoman, who were the first to be arrested, applied for their case to be discharged after they stayed for over a year without being taken to court for trial.
“After failing to take them to court for trial for over a year, we felt that their right to a fair trial was being violated because Section 42  [F]  provides for a fair trial which includes a speedy trial and for various reasons the matter has dragged,” he said.
Bottoman and Tembo were arrested in 2012 alongside eight others following the outcome of a Commission of Inquiry but for various reasons, trial has dragged.
The inquiry into the student’s death named 15, including former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor for the South, Noel Masangwi, boxing promoter Mike Chitenje and former and current Big Bullets Football Club supporters chairpersons Isaac Osman and Stone Mwamadi respectively.
Chasowa was found dead near the dispensary and finance blocks office at the Polytechnic campus on September 24 2011 under questionable circumstances.