Defence lawyers in the Maizegate case involving Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice- president George Chaponda and businessperson Rashid Tayub have expressed dismay at continued deferment of the court proceedings.
One of the lawyers, Jai Banda, expressed his discontent in an interview yesterday following an application for adjournment by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) who are seeking more time for thorough preparations.
Early last month, Zomba Magistrate’s Court set April 9 for both parties to make their oral submissions before the court makes its determination on whether Chaponda and Tayub have cases to answer.
However, the graft-busting body’s application for adjournment has infuriated the defence team, which feels the State is deliberately applying tricks to delay the proceedings.
“We were given a deadline by the court which we, as the defence, complied with so we are just disappointed because we were expecting that they [State] will also comply with what the court had said. The more the case delays, the more prejudice the accused suffer,” complained Banda.
He said since the case started, they have always indicated their eagerness for speedy trial, but the State has been trying hard to delay proceedings.
“Each time the State has been coming up with excuses. For example, they asked for the recusal of Blantyre chief resident magistrate Simeon Mdeza. After that was declined, they came up with an application to have the matter be transferred to the High Court, all those were efforts of trying to delay the case,” observed Banda.
The counsel observed that Chaponda and Tayub would want to see the case concluded as quickly as possible because it was affecting them in various ways.
“The court case has an effect on businesses of both accused persons and as for Honourable Chaponda his political career is also impinged on,” he said.
While confirming requesting for an adjournment, State counsel Macmillan Chakhala said they were compelled to file the application because they wanted more time to respond to the first accused (Chaponda’s) written submissions of no case to answer.
“They served us late and we thought if the case would proceed we would not have enough time to respond so we asked the court for more time and it granted us an adjournment,” he said.
The court adjourned the proceedings to April 20 for both parties to make oral submissions. The bureau is expected to first respond in writing to the defence submissions.
Chaponda, who was fired from President Peter Mutharika’s Cabinet, is answering three charges, including giving false information to ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency while Tayub has one charge of persuading a public officer to misuse his position.
They both deny the charges.