The Principal Resident Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe on Friday stopped the State from proceeding to tender documentary evidence in the case involving Rwandan genocide suspected convict Vincent Murekezi.
Murekezi was appearing before principal resident magistrate Patrick Chilunga Chirwa for the continuation of his extradition case.
Senior chief State advocate Steven Kayuni told Chirwa immediately the court reconvened at 11am on Friday that the Stat had received documentary evidence/witnesses from Rwandan prosecution authorities, which he wanted to tender to the court.
Kayuni said the documents from their Rwandan counterparts were critical to the case; hence, he prayed to the court to allow him ‘process’ them in support of local evidence.
He had merely read a few paragraphs when defence lawyer Wapona Kita interjected, arguing it was erroneous for the State to present the documentary witness when the court had not made its ruling on whether genocide is an extraditable offence.
Kita further asked the State to tell the court if it will summon authors of the said documentary evidence to physically come to the court for cross-examination.
“The law allows the accused to cross-examine the witness. Is the State going to bring them [authors] for cross-examination?” he asked.
Kita also maintained that Malawi’s Extradition Act does not include Rwanda among designated countries for extradition.
The defence lawyer’s arguments prompted Chirwa to adjourn the hearing to 3pm, before he could make a ruling on the matter.
And in his ruling, Chirwa agreed with the defence that the State had taken a wrong path on the matter.
“The court cannot allow the State to proceed in the manner it took off this morning,” said Chirwa.
In an earlier appearance, Kayuni stated that under the London Scheme for Extradition, Customary and International Law and Malawi’s Extradition Act, Malawi Government is empowered to arrest and extradite people suspected to have taken part in some criminal activities in their native countries.
“Rwanda applied to become a member of the Commonwealth after the 1994 genocide.
Malawi, too, is a member of Commonwealth for over 40 years.
“Thus, under this membership, Malawi is under obligation to arrest and extradite Rwandan nationals suspected to have committed crimes in their country,” he explained.
Police arrested Murekezi on December 8 2016 after a grouping calling itself ‘Concerned Citizens’ piled pressure on government to have Murekezi extradited over genocide.
Murekezi has lived in Malawi since 2003.