The High Court in Lilongwe on Thursday freed on bail 11 ex-Cabinet ministers and top government officials arrested on Monday on treason allegations.
The 11, who include Malawi’s former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) interim leader Peter Mutharika, Economic and Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe and interdicted chief secretary Bright Msaka, were arrested following the release of a Commission of Inquiry Report into the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika. The report has exposed attempts to circumvent constitutional order last April soon after Mutharika’s death.
In granting the 11 bail, Judge Ivy Kamanga ruled that each pays a bond of K250 000 (about $694) in cash, K7 million (about $2 777) each but not in cash. Those resident in the Central Region are required to report to National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe fortnightly on a Friday for the first three months.
Those resident in the Southern and Northern regions, the Judge said, they should report to Southern Region Police in Blantyre and Northern Region Police in Mzuzu, respectively.
The court has also ordered the suspects to stop commenting on the charges publicly while on bail.
“We are satisfied with the ruling so far,” said Kalekeni Kaphale, one of the leading lawyers for the 11, after the ruling.
Kaphale earlier argued in court that bail is a constitutional right of everybody in Malawi and that precedence has already been set in other treason cases involving high profile people in the country.
Other arrested officials are; former deputy chief secretary Necton Mhura, former Cabinet ministers Patricia Kaliati, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Henry Mussa and Jean Kalilani, former deputy ministers Kondwani Nankhumwa and Nicholas Dausi and former presidential guard commander Duncan Mwapasa who is yet to be formally charged and is currently on police bail.
Former legal adviser to the late Mutharika, Allan Ntata, was charged in absentia on Wednesday alongside Gondwe and Kalilani. Ntata is out of the country while Gondwe and Kalilani are in hospital.