Business tycoon Thomson Mpinganjira’s lawyers say their client will indicate his position on his application for a plea bargain within seven days.
In an interview yesterday after the High Court of Malawi adjourned hearing of the matter to Friday, Mpinganjira’s lead lawyer Patrice Nkhono said much had not happened on the issue since his team discussed it with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
He defined plea bargaining—an arrangement where prosecution and defence discuss a mutually satisfactory way to dispose of a case—as pertaining to an accused person admitting to elements in a case before a judge endorses it to check out whether the elements tally in the admission.
Nkhono said his client did not admit to all counts in the charge sheet.
He said: “So, we do not think our client was able to admit to all counts on the charge sheet. The discussion [with ACB] went into whether there are other charges we could look at to see if there could be anything our client could admit, but unfortunately we are drawing a blank.
“So, at the end of the day there was a proposal that ACB had put on the table which our client had to consider… That is what we will be getting back on. We believe that we are going to bring this to a close very soon and I think before the end of the next seven days.”
During the October 22 2020 hearing, Mpinganjira applied for plea bargaining with the State to save time and resources where presiding Judge Dorothy DeGabrielle accepted the application.
Black’s Law Dictionary (Sixth Edition) defines plea bargaining as the process whereby the accused and the prosecutor in a criminal case work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case subject to court approval.
It further states that the process involves the defendant pleading to a lesser offence or to only one or some of the counts of a multi-count indictment in return for a lighter sentence than the possible for the graver charge.
In the case, Mpinganjira is accused of allegedly attempting to bribe five High Court judges sitting as the Constitutional Court in the May 21 2019 presidential election nullification petition case.
Yesterday, the ACB paraded High Court Judge Redson Kapindu, a member of the five-judge Constitutional Court panel, as the fourth prosecution witness.
In his testimony, Kapindu said he was informed that Mpinganjira was looking for Potani’s mobile phone number together with the other judges.
When asked by one of Mpinganjira’s lawyers, Fostino Mayele, if the decision to consult judges when a third party is seeking their number applies to everyone, Kapindu said he does the same to everyone.
He also told the court that he had never interacted with Mpinganjira before, but recognised his voice in a recorded conversation he had with Judge Mike Tembo that was played among the judges.
When asked how he recognised the voice of someone he had never met, Kapindu said Tembo was being definitive in the conversation and that he had seen Mpinganjira speaking on television on numerous times.
Meanwhile, hearing of the case will continue on Friday morning when the ACB will parade two of its investigation officers and Judge Ivy Kamanga who was recently promoted to the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
Mpinganjira is answering charges under the Corruption Practices Act. The charges include offering an advantage to a public officer, attempting to induce public officers to exercise functions of their offices corruptly and purportedly attempting to influence public officers by offering K100 million to Constitutional Court judges.