The Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal has reserved ruling on Thom Mpinganjira’s application challenging the High Court of Malawi’s decision to dismiss his bail application pending appeal.
Before adjourning the matter in Blantyre yesterday, Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Frank Kapanda ordered both the applicant’s and State lawyers to resubmit their final written submissions.
Mpinganjira, through his lawyers Alex Nampota and Fostino Maere, is challenging High Court of Malawi Judge John Chirwa’s decision to dismiss his bail application pending appeal.
The business tycoon was on October 5 last year sentenced to nine years imprisonment after the High Court of Malawi found him guilty of attempting to bribe five judges of the
High Court of Malawi who presided over the May 21 2019 presidential election nullification petition.
The defence, among others, argued that the State did not prove that Mpinganjira offered money to the five judges as none of them testified in court that money exchanged hands between them and the convict.
Nampota, therefore, asked the court to release his client on bail pending appeal, saying that doctors have express concern with Mpinganjira’s safety in prison as he has health issues.
He said: “If he dies [in prison] the State will not achieve justice.
“But he should be granted bail and after the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal upholds the lower court’s judgement, the State will achieve its goal of punishing him.”
Nampota also claimed that during the trial at the High Court of Malawi, the presiding judge Dorothy DeGabrielle intimidated the defence counsels, a development he said affected the trial.
He played four audios in court that were extracted dur ing the tr ial to substantiate his arguments.
Said Nampota: “The audios show that the judge went for him [Mpinganjira]. He was denied to consult his counsels during trial. The judge interjected the defence counsel, threatened them that they will send their client to jail if the judge felt they were delaying trial.”
But in its submission, the Anti-Corruption Bureau through lawyers Victor Chiwala and Golda Rapozo, who represented the State, argued that Mpinganjira’s application lacks merit.
Chiwala told the court that the appellant’ s grounds are no exceptional circumstances warranting bail.
He quoted Section 24 (i) of the Supreme Court Act, which he said does not give a convict the right to appeal to the Supreme Court before hearing starts.
“They were supposed to come before the court after actual hearing of the appeal starts,” said Chiwala.
On submissions that the State did not prove that money exchanged hands he faulted Nampota, arguing that he misconceived the charges.
He said Mpinganjira was charged with an attempt to bribe.
Earlier in the day, Justice Kapanda barred Mpinganjira’s sympathisers, inclunding Democratic Progressive Party regional governor Charles Mchacha (South), Muhlako wa Lhomwe chairperson Leston Mulli and renowned Mighty Wanderers supporter Yona Malunga from following the matter physically in court.
“This is a chamber matter. You will hear or follow from the media,” he said.