The High Court of Malawi has thrown out an application by businessperson Zameer Karim for a review of the State’s amendment of his charge sheet in the K7.4 billion Malawi Police Service food rations case.
In her ruling dated October 21 2021 delivered in Lilongwe, High Court Judge Annabel Mtalimanja observed that there was no irregularity by the State to add a new charge to Karim’s charge sheet.
She said the State did not flout or contravene any laws by adding the extra charge, saying it was within its powers and mandate.
The judge said: “The State was within its mandate to add the charge of money laundering to the charge sheet and did not abuse its powers.”
Further, Mtalimanja also observed that there charge while the case was still proceeding in the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court. This, she said, indicated that there was no strong basis for Karim’s application.was no challenge of the new
While describing Karim’s application in the High Court as premature, the judge also ordered that the case should recommence in the lower court.
Through his lawyer Alexious Nampota, the businessperson sought an order on September 24 2021 to put aside proceedings of his case in the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court pending a review of the amendment after the State added a charge of money laundering on his charge sheet.
Karim, facing fraud charges, wanted the High Court to determine the legality and regularity of the State’s decision to add the extra charge at the close of the prosecution.
Following the ruling, Karim will now have to either proceed in entering his defence by parading witnesses in the case or choose to remain silent.
Our efforts to speak to Nampota on Sunday proved futile as he could not be reached on his mobile phone.
Court documents we have seen show that Karim argued that it was irregular for the State to add an extra charge on the charge sheet at a time they were closing their case as the prosecution and, therefore, wanted the court to determine its legality.
Besides, he argued that amending the charge sheet would mean recalling some witnesses for cross-examination, including former Malawi Police director of finance Innocent Bottomani.
Bottomani, who was paraded as the first State witness, died on July 18 this year due to Covid-19 complications.
In the case, Karim, trading as Pioneer Investments, is accused of conspiring with the late Bottomani and Malawi Police deputy director of finance Grant Kachingwe, between December 14 2014 and September 19 2019 at the Ministry of Finance in Lilongwe, to allegedly steal K7 431 134 74 public funds. Former president Peter Mutharika was also implicated in the food rations scandal after Karim donated K145 million of the proceeds to the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) fundraising account whose sole signatory was Mutharika. However, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) later cleared Mutharika of any wrongdoing.