The High Court in Mzuzu has said the death of Natural Resources College (NRC) student Edson Msiska in police custody on January 30 2012 was due to negligence.
Six police officers were arrested and charged with murder following his death, but the charge was quashed by judge Dingiswayo Madise, citing lack of evidence.
Three officers were later acquitted while the other three—George Kamphe, Victor Nsoloma and Lucius Mpakeni—were charged with manslaughter.
Delivering judgement yesterday, Madise blamed senior police officers for failing to take Msiska to hospital after being alerted on several occasions about his health condition. He said if Msiska was taken to hospital earlier he would not have died.
The judge said the family was at liberty to sue government for wrongful death and negligence.
Said Madise: “This is a clear case of negligence by the Malawi Police Service. If the deceased had been taken to hospital earlier, he would not have died. He started complaining of body pains on January 26, a day after his arrest, but was kept in custody up to 29 January 2012.”
He went ahead to acquit Kamphe and Mpakeni, saying the State failed to prove their involvement in the death.
He, however, found Nsoloma guilty and convicted him as there was evidence against him. The evidence included statements by other police officers who were acquitted and complaints by the deceased before he died.
Chief State advocate Dzikondianthu Malunda said the State will request the court to give a stiffer sentence to Nsoloma.
Meanwhile, Msiska’s relation, Ester Lupafya, said the family will decide whether to sue government after Nsoloma has been sentenced.
The sentence is expected to be delivered after 21 days.
Northern Region Police spokesperson Maurice Chapola said police always value suspects’ health and said there could have been other factors that stopped police from taking Msiksa to hospital.