Business mogul Thomson Mpinganjira will have to wait until end of January 2021 when the High Court of Malawi will decide whether he has a case to answer in his alleged judge bribery case.
Presiding judge Dorothy De Gabrielle told parties to the case in Blantyre yesterday that the exact dates would be communicated.
The judge gave the indication after prosecution and defence lawyers filed their final submissions with Mpinganjira’s team pleading for an acquittal on the basis of lack of evidence and the State through the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) stating that there was overwhelming evidence.
Ma k i n g h i s o r a l submissions, Mpinganjira’s lead lawyer Patrice Nkhono asked the court to acquit his client because the State failed to give evidence to prove the charges against him despite parading six witnesses.
He also said that while Mpinganjira purportedly offered a parcel to the five-judge panel of the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court hearing the presidential election nullification petition, the State failed to show any elements of corruption in the offer.
Nkhono also pleaded with the court to give his client a fair trial, arguing that fairness was at risk from the manner the whole case was handled from the point the Chief Justice reported the matter to the ACB and judges being witnesses.
In addition, he said that part of the conversation between Judge Mike Tembo and Mpinganjira had low evidential value as the discussion about the said parcel did not suggest contents of the same.
In his submission on behalf of the prosecution team, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba argued that from the conversations between Tembo and Mpinganjira, there was evidence of existence of a parcel whose contents were discussed at a later stage.
Reading transcripts of the said conversations, he countered assertions that Mpinganjira did not have a fair trial, saying the court was impartial.
Matemba also said in offering the parcel, Mpinganjira knew what he was doing in running his “project” which he had told two of the judges—Tembo and Healey Potani.
While asking the court to make its determination based on evidence, the ACB chief said the fact that the judges reported the matter late did not jeorpadise investigations.
In an interview after adjournment, Matemba said the prosecution’s position is that Mpinganjira wanted to
influence the judges in performing
their roles corruptly according to evidence gathered through investigations. influence the judges in performing
In a separate interview, Nkhono maintained that the State failed to prove some elements; hence, Mpinganjira should be acquitted.
He said: “The premise for us on submission of no case to answer is that for the most part, what the prosecution has done is to suggest that the defendant [Mpinganjira] offered a parcel to Justice [Healey] Potani and that they have gone further to show that such a parcel was offered corruptly. But there is no evidence to that effect.”
Mpinganjira, who was arrested in January this year, is accused of attempting to bribe five Constitutional Court judges who presided over the presidential election nullification case to rule in favour of former president Peter Mutharika