Malawi Government wants the 11 ex-ministers and senior government officials charged with treason on Wednesday to be put under house arrest if released on bail on Thursday.
The 11 were arrested on Monday 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.
When the arrested officials appeared before the High Court in Lilongwe for bail hearing on Thursday morning, one of the defence lawyers, Kalekeni Kaphale, told journalists that “government argued in court that the 11 should be put under house arrest and report to police three times a week, and be allowed a maximum three visitors at a time, among others conditions”.
The suspects include Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) interim president Peter Mutharika, Minister of Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, interdicted chief secretary Bright Msaka and his former deputy Necton Mhura, former Cabinet ministers Patricia Kaliati, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Henry Mussa and Jean Kalilani.
In a packed court, which normally sits between 20 and 30 people, defence lawyers, led by Kaphale, argued on Thursday 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.
Judge Ivy Kamanga adjourned ruling for bail for 2 pm on Thursday.
Thousands of DPP supporters gathered outside chanting and singing in the presence of heavily armed police.
The remaining arrested suspects are; 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.