The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court on Monday granted bail to Thyolo Central parliamentarian Ben Phiri on a K10 million cash bail bond, among other conditions.
In granting bail, chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa dismissed the State’s plea to have Phiri remain in custody for seven more days to facilitate conclusion of investigations.
But the magistrate said the State failed to illustrate how the suspect would interfere with investigation.
Bail conditions for Phiri, who has spent six days in custody, include surrendering his passport and reporting to National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe fortnightly. He was also asked to provide two non-cash sureties bonded at K5 million each.
Phiri, who served in former president Peter Mutharika’s Cabinet, is accused of procurement fraud at Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare involving his firm, Beata Investment. The firm is said to have received a payment of over K250 million for goods that were never supplied.
The State through prosecutor Cecelia Zangazanga wanted the suspect to remain in custody, but defence lawyer Mauya Msuku argued against this, saying the law requires that a person arrested under a warrant has to be taken to the nearest court as soon as possible.
Last week, Lilongwe senior resident magistrate Florence Msekandiana also granted bail to two Democratic Progressive Party members Joseph Mwanamvekha and Dalitso Kabambe. In their cases, the State also asked for more time to allow for investigations, but the court again dismissed the plea.