Murder suspect Norman Chisale can now breathe a sigh of relief after court yesterday ordered his unconditional release from custody.
The ex-security aide to former president Peter Mutharika has been in custody for over two months after being charged with murder, money laundering, and other charges.
Justice Lovemore Chikopa of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal who signed the order, observed that since his arrest on July 28 2020, Chisale has not been charged with any offence before court or committed for trial before the High Court on homicide allegations.
The judge added that the State was not comfortable to release the suspect and left it to the court to make the determination.
Reads the order: “The question might arise as to whether such a release should be conditional. We think not in so far as it relates to these proceedings. We see no reason to attach any special conditions to such release. They would be superfluous anyway.”
Chisale’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe in an interview said his client had been released with bail conditions.
Said Gondwe: “We are happy with the court’s decision and we will now be waiting for the State to be ready for the case.
Chisale was arrested in relation to the murder of Anti-Corruption Bureau(ACB) director of corporate affairs Issa Njauju in 2015.
Mutharika’s top bodyguard was first arrested on July 14 2020 in connection with a cement deal and was slapped with two charges of fraud and money laundering. He was rearrested just after being granted bail on July 17 on a charge of attempted murder of a woman he shot in Blantyre.
The cement deal involves importation of cement from Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2018 and 2019 where he is alleged to have used his boss’s duty-free status.
In the initial transaction in November 2018, the President bought 20 000 metric tonnes (MT) or 200 000 bags of cement worth $2 240 000 (about K1.68 billion) from PTC Zimbabwe Limited duty-free. In the second transaction in July 2019, Mutharika purchased the same quantity from Prestige Export in Chipata in Zambia.
In a letter responding to the State Residences request dated November 28 2018, MRA deputy commissioner of technical customs and excise Abigail Kamwamba approved the transaction and advised that the cement should be allowed into the country from the previously Lilongwe Port to Dedza and Mchinji.
Reads the letter in part: “We write to acknowledge receipt of the letter dated 21st November, 2018 requesting duty-free clearance of the above-mentioned goods.
“We write to convey the Commissioner General’s approval to clear 20 000 MT cement from Zimbabwe duty-free in terms of Customs Procedures Code 418 of the Customs and Exercise (Tariffs) Order.”
Former presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani in an earlier interview stated that the President was within the law, saying: “The goods were imported under the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act chapter 2 sub-section 2 part 7 of the schedule. Under this law, the President is entitled to import goods for personal use duty-free.”