The High Court in Lilongwe on Tuesday gave the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) three days to surrender to court copies of documents seized from Cashgate convict Leonard Kalonga or risk being in contempt of court.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale moved the court to order ACB to release the documents because Kalonga’s defence team, in mitigation, alleged that their client had, all the time, wanted to cooperate with the State. The lawyers alleged that State agencies either frustrated, prevented or ignored him.
Kalonga, a former tourism assistant director, is awaiting sentence after being convicted in August 2015 on his own plea of guilty to the charge of money laundering related to Cashgate—the plunder of public funds at Capital Hill through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services not rendered—exposed in 2013.
High Court Judge Fiona Mwale ordered that ACB must, within 72 hours, give the court copies of all documents or bring its two officers that were in charge of the documents to court to testify or be cross-examined by the defence. Failing to comply, the court warned, will mean the bureau will be held in contempt.
The case has since been adjourned to June 22 2016.
The judge bemoaned the dragging of the case, but said in the interest of fair judgement to Kalonga, it was necessary that ACB produces the said documents. Kalonga was arrested in 2013.
She said: “Whether the information does exist, but in the interest of fair trial, I order ACB to give the court the documents within 72 hours.”
In an interview after the judgement, Kachale said she trusts that ACB will comply properly with the judge’s order as there would be no reasons for delay.
She said the State was disputing the assertions from Kalonga’s legal team that State agencies frustrated his intentions to cooperate with the prosecution. n