The High Court in Blantyre on Monday reserved ruling on a bail application and stay of execution of forfeiture order of the machinery involving 35 foreign and Malawian nationals caught logging in Lengwe National Park in Chikwawa.
The 35, who are currently at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre made an appeal against the custodial sentence and forfeiture of their machinery through their lawyers George Kaliwo and Joseph Kamkwasi and asked the upper court to grant them bail pending the ruling on the appeal.
Following submissions from both the state and the defence, Judge Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga has since reserved ruling on the bail application to Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
The Blantyre Magistrate’s Court early last month sentenced the 23 Mozambicans, two Chinese and 10 Malawians to 18 and 12 months imprisonment.
They were convicted on three counts of entering into a protected area, conveying, possession and using prohibited weapons in a protected area and disturbance of indigenous species in a protected area.
The 35, who pleaded not guilty to the charges were discovered logging into the protected area on November 2, 2016, approximately five kilometres from the Mozambique border.
Over 240 000 Mopane trees were said to have been extracted by the convicts since March 2016. The trees were being transported to Mozambique for sell.
During the sentencing, Chief Resident Magistrate Thom Ligowe ruled that all equipment used in the crime be confiscated and that two vehicles a Toyota Land Cruser and Twin cab (Hilux) be given to the Directorate of Parks and Wild Life and the Judiciary respectively.
He also ruled that the rest of the property should be sold by the sheriffs and the money be deposited into the National Wildlife Fund.
The confiscated properties include six 4×4 Tractors, two Caterpillar ‘bulldozer’/ road graders, a thirty-ton lorry, a Toyota Hilux, a Toyota Landcruiser, two chainsaws and four motorbikes.