The Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has send back to the High Court an application by former President Bakili Muluzi seeking determination of several issues considered to relate to the interpretation or application of the Constitution provisions in his K1.7billion corruption case.
Muluzi is jointly on trial at the High Court with his then personal assistant Violet Whisky on criminal charges under the Corrupt Practices Act.
The accused asked High Court Judge Maclean Kamwambe to refer the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal for constitutional interpretation pursuant to Section 9 (2) of the Courts Act alleging that the whole trial against him misrepresents the Constitution in many respects.
In particular, Muluzi’s legal counsel based their arguments on Section 42 on the right to fair trial, Section 88 (1) on the responsibility of the President in upholding the Constitution and Section 101 (2) on the independence and exercise of powers conferred on the Director of Public Prosecutions.
But making his ruling today, the Justice Nyirenda said by referring the matter to the Supreme Court for certification, Judge Kamwambe misdirected the accused as he could have determined on his own.
Reads Nyirenda’s ruling: “The learned judge was supposed to decide whether it is necessary for the matter to be submitted to the chief justice for further consideration. For these reasons, this matter is returned to the original court for the learned Judge to determine as he might consider appropriate.”
In his submission on August 13, 2015 State prosecutor Reyneck Matemba prayed to the chief justice to refer the matter back to High Court to decide on whether or not it was necessary that the matter be referred to Supreme Court for certification.
“In the event that the original [High Court] is satisfied that the referral is necessary and then makes the referral, this Honourable Court will then have to decide whether or not the matter before the court expressly and substantively relates to or concerns the interpretation or application of the provisions of the Constitution, before granting the certification,” wrote Matemba.
Muluzi’s case started in 2009 and has now taken about six years due to numerous adjournments mainly attributed to the former president’s illness and objections from the defense.