The Principal Resident Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe yesterday dismissed an application by lawyer for Rwandan genocide suspect Vincent Murekezi to dismiss the extradition process, arguing the case is beyond the lower court’s jurisdiction.
In his preliminary objections during the morning court sessions, defence lawyer Wapona Kita discredited the court, saying it had no powers to handle the extradition case.
He further challenged principal resident magistrate Patrick Chilunga Chirwa to produce evidence that he had authority (from the minister) to handle the case.
He asked: “Magistrate courts have no powers or jurisdiction over extradition proceedings. If they are to do so, they are supposed to do that under the statutes of Parliament.
“Do you have an authority from the minister to handle this case? We are sitting here illegally. Show us any written law that gives your court powers to handle this case?”
Kita further hit at the State, saying it flouted laid down procedures when it arrested Murekezi without a valid “warrant of arrest from any court in this country”.
He also argued that genocide is not an extraditable offence; hence, the State could be labouring in vain over the matter.
“Rwanda is not a designated country for extradition,” said Kita.
But senior assistant chief State advocate Steven Kayuni fought back, saying the defence team was merely trying to mislead the court on the matter.
He said under the London Scheme for Extradition, Customary and International Law and Malawi’s Extradition Act empowers Malawi to arrest and extradite people suspected to have taken part in some criminal activities in their native countries.
Police arrested Murekezi on December 8 2016 after a grouping calling itself Concerned Citizens piled pressure on government to have the Rwandese extradited over genocide case. n