The State House has said President Joyce Banda regrets that Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) journalist Clement Chinoko was not charged and brought before court after his arrest within the 48-hour period as the law demands.
Banda, through a press statement issued on Thursday by presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane, said it is her hope that in future prosecuting officers and legal counsels for suspects would ensure that peopleâ€™s rights are not violated.
Chinoko was arrested on Saturday following a story The Sunday Times published on an alleged engagement of two women depicted to be lesbians. He was released on court bail on Tuesday.
The State House, however, said it understood that Chinoko would have been charged within the stipulated 48-hour period on Monday had it not been for his lawyerâ€™s request to have the case transferred from Chileka to Blantyre.
But his lawyer Michael Chipeta in an interview on Thursday described the State Houseâ€™s claims that he requested for transfer of the case to Blantyre as false.
Chipeta said after his clientâ€™s arrest on Saturday, he went to Chileka Police and asked for police bail, which was denied. He said after the 48-hour period elapsed on Monday, police told the lawyer on Tuesday that they were moving Chinoko to Blantyre, insisting that he never made any request on that.
National Media Institute of Southern Africa (Namisa) condemned Chinokoâ€™s arrest, saying the matter could have been ably handled by Namisa and the Media Council of Malawi, among others.