The High Court in Blantyre has suspended a case where former president Bakili Muluzi and his then personal assistant, Violet Whisky, are accused of diverting K1.7 billion public funds into Muluzi’s personal account.
Muluzi’s newly hired lead lawyer, Tamando Chokotho, told High Court judge Maclean Kamwambe that he wanted the case to go to the Constitutional Court as per Rule 8(1) of the Courts (High Court) (Procedure on the interpretation of Application of the Constitution) Rule as he felt the issues being raised in the case are constitutional in nature.
Chokotho presented three arguments which he wants Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda to rule on.
First, he claimed that Muluzi’s successor, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, interfered with the operations of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) by ordering his arrest on corruption charges when ACB had no intention to carry out the arrest.
Second, Chokotho argued that the case was politically-motivated because Muluzi—who was head of State between 1994 and 2004—was continuously being harassed by arresting him, among others.
In the third ground, Chokotho questioned the conduct of the offices of the ACB and the Attorney General (AG) in the matter.
Queried Chokotho: “Did the former AG and director of ACB’s conduct to fabricate evidence against the accused not undermine the accused’s right to a fair trial as provided for in Section 42[f] of the Constitution?”
Kamwambe then suspended the proceedings until the Chief Justice determines whether the case is constitutional in nature.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula, speaking in an interview, said should the Chief Justice decide that the case is constitutional, a three-judge panel will be appointed to hear it.
Muluzi’s case started in 2009 and has now taken about six years due to numerous adjournments mainly attributed to the former president’s illness and objections from the defence.