No progress in sight. The future of the 10-year-old corruption case involving former president Bakili Muluzi remains a thriller as the High Court in Blantyre yesterday failed to start hearing due to unavailability of defence counsel Tamando Chokhotho.
Registrar of High Court of Malawi and Supreme Court of Appeal, Agnes Patemba, confirmed in an interview the matter failed to come before Judge Chifundo Kachale after Muluzi’s lawyer requested for an adjournment.
Said Patemba: “Counsel Chokhotho requested that the case should be adjourned because he had another matter in the Supreme Court. So when he raised the issue of adjournment the court considered it because being a superior court, priority goes to Supreme Court.”
The registrar said a new date for hearing would be communicated to both parties later once the Lilongwe-based judge provides an indication of his availability.
On his part, Chokhotho, who is representing the former president alongside Jai Banda, also confirmed asking for an adjournment to attend to a delivery of judgement by the Supreme Court.
The Muluzi’s K1.7 billion corruption case has two files-criminal number 1 of 2009 and criminal case number 2 of 2009.
However, the latter, which was the one scheduled for hearing yesterday, was pended for the courts to first handle the first matter.
The case was set down for hearing on November 30 last year by the High Court after its last appearance about nine years ago.
On November 30, hearing lasted for less than 30 minutes before Kachale adjourned to yesterday at the request of the State—represented by two Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) lawyers—Victor Chiwala and Clement Mwala.
The State pleaded that the case had stayed long without coming to court as such it needed ample time to retrace and interview its witnesses before coming for mention.
Yesterday, the judge was expected to come up with dates for the State witnesses to start testifying against the former president.
Muluzi, 75, the first multiparty president who ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004, is answering to corruption charges alongside his former personal secretary Lyness Whiskey.
He is being accused of diverting K1.7 billion, which government alleges was public funds, to his personal account during his reign.
Muluzi was dragged to court by the State in 2006 during Bingu wa Mutharika’s reign but for nine years, the case had been dormant.n