Former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo yesterday failed to take plea after his lawyers objected to the late service of amended charges in the K2.4 billion (about $3.6million) theft and money laundering cases.
In the case, Mphwiyo and 18 others are answering several counts, among them theft and money laundering K2.4 billion.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale has amended charges of the accused persons on the count of abuse of office as it has now been split six ways with specific particulars affecting each of the suspects.
In the previous charge sheet, all accused persons were lumped together with no particulars.
Kachale has also amended the dates for each of the accused persons to read that the abuse of office occurred between August 1 and September 15 2013. Previously, the charge read that the crime was committed between April 1 and July 30 2013.
But private practice lawyer Titus Mvalo, speaking on behalf of other defence lawyers, described the amendments as significant; hence, it would be not be safe for the defendants to take plea before consulting their lawyers.
Mphwiyo is facing charges alongside 18 others, including civil servants such as former Accountant General David Kandoje, Auzius Kazombo Mwale, Clemence Mmadzi and Roosevelt Ndovi. There are also contractors among the accused persons.
Others are George Banda, Michael Mphatso, Samuel Mzanda and Maxwell Namata who are facing charges of fraud, negligence by public office, money laundering, theft by public servant, theft by servant and conspiracy to defraud government amounting to K2 446 817 450.49.