The judge in the case of the shooting of former Malawi budget director Paul Mphwiyo has recused herself following allegations from the defence that she was under pressure which could prejudice the impartiality of the trial.
Justice Esmie Chombo was assigned the case due to start today (Wednesday) in which five accused persons who are former Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara, businessman Pika Manondo, Dauka Manondo, Robert Kadzuwa and Macdonald Kumwembe are charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
The victim, Mphwiyo also came for the plea taking but he was heavily guarded by Police and court officials while the five accused persons all came to court, including Pika Manondo who is still in custody in Kasungu.
However the start of trial has met with a slight hiccup following instructions from Kasambara and Pika Manondo to the defence lawyers who have asked Chombo to recuse herself based on comments she allegedly made that she was receiving pressure from unknown quarters over the shooting case.
Following the pre-hearing which took place in the judge’s chambers today, Director of Public Prosecutions told the media that the judge had agreed to recuse herself based on the fears of the defence.
For more details and analysis read tomorrow’s THE NATION.