Malawi says the Rwandan fugitive and genocide convict Vincent Murekezi will face trial bordering on corruption before being extradited to his country to serve his life sentence.
Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate, Steven Kayuni, brought to the attention of the Lilongwe Magistrate Court on Tuesday that state agencies Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) had effected a warrant of arrest on Murekezi “this morning” over corruption charges.
Kayuni stated that ACB and MRA arrested Murekezi in 2008 on allegations that he was involved in criminal activities bordering on corruption together with Komani Nyasulu.
The two were charged under Criminal Case Number 91 of 2008, according to Kayuni.
The Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate disclosed that the fugitive took advantage of the bail the court granted him to flee the country.
“He moved to Zimbabwe on a Malawian passport. And the issue we have all along had is that the police have been looking for him on corruption charges.
“This is because he left the country and was using a different passport,” said Kayuni.
Defence lawyer Gift Katundu of Kita and Company contended that it was unthinkable for the State to issue or effect a warrant of arrest eight years after the incident happened.
“The warrant of arrest could have been effected then. This warrant of arrest has been submitted to a wrong destination,” said Katundu.
But Principal Resident Magistrate (PRM) Patrick Chilunga Chirwa corrected, saying “an arrest warrant does not have timeframe”.
“[Therefore], I don’t see anything wrong to effect an arrest warrant on the accused today,” said Chirwa.
Meanwhile, court granted the State’s prayer for a 21-day adjournment to allow it make thorough investigations into Murekezi’s corruption case as well as a reasonable time for Malawi Government to correspond with the Rwandan Government on the extradition process.
Murekezi was arrested on Thursday last week after pressure piled on government to arrest and extradite him.
He is said to be a successful businessman in the country. In an exclusive interview earlier, the fugitive said has lived in Malawi since 2003.
He initially applied for temporary residence permit after securing police clearance. He went on to apply for business permit, Permanent Residence Permit (2008) and citizenship in 2013.
Murekezi was granted citizenship under Citizenship Act Cap 1501 after paying US$5000. He made this payment on 9 March 2016.
The following day, he applied for a passport, which was also issued, according to Immigration Department public relations officer Joseph Chauwa.