Prosecution and defence lawyers yesterday made their final submissions in the case where former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara and four others are accused of attempting to murder former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
Following this development, High Court judge Michael Mtambo will this Wednesday decide whether the suspects have a case to answer.
Kasambara, who is representing himself, is being charged alongside the Manondo brothers—Pika and Dauka—James Kumwembe and Robert Kadzuwa.
In their submission, the defence condemned the case as a script and a fabrication, arguing that the State’s case was defeated by inconsistencies of its own witness plus a glaring error of trusting another crucial witness who turned hostile.
One of the defence lawyers, John-Gift Mwakhwawa, went to town on victim and State witness Mphwiyo’s recount of the two-minute period just before his shooting when he said he identified the accused persons hiding beside his gate.
“Mr. Mphwiyo had no time to identify his attackers. He was shot three times, it was in the dark, the window of his car was up,” he said.
But Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale said the State had presented enough evidence for a prima facie case for the court to find the accused persons with a case to answer.
She argued that the defence had attempted to divert the attention of the court away from the legal principle governing the stage of the trial, describing the viewpoints of the defence as “confused”.
She further addressed defence attempts to discredit Mphwiyo’s implication of Kasambara after a long delay to mention the former minister as a suspect, saying it was only “natural that he was fearful of Kasambara and still is today.”
In a related development, Mtambo dismissed an application by the State to revoke the bail of the five accused persons, saying the State had failed to demonstrate in its application enough evidence linking the suspects to alleged threats to witnesses.
Earlier, the State agreed with lawyers for Oswald Lutepo, one of the accused persons, whose charges are now to be formally discharged, that the court should properly dismiss the case by acquitting Lutepo.
Lutepo’s lawyer, Oswald Mtupila, said the move to acquit the suspect instead of just dismissing the case will enable his client to sue for a compensation for unlawful arrest.
During the hearing, evidence against each of the accused persons in relation to each account of conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder was examined by Mtambo, who kept interrupting the submissions of both parties with probing questions.