Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators Jessie Kabwila, Peter Chakhwantha, and another official Ulemu Msungama, accused of treason, have been told by police that they are free to travel outside Malawi if need be.
Gustav Kaliwo, lawyer representing the three, said in an interview yesterday that he went to police in Lilongwe with his clients on Friday as per their bail conditions, only to be told that their bails were extended to April 29 this year, on the prevailing original conditions.
Kaliwo said police told them they were still investigating the matter. And when he asked whether his clients would be allowed to travel outside the country, he was told they were free to do so.
He disclosed that on their signed bail documents, the three are still answering to treason charges, contrary to a statement by Inspector General of Police (IG) Lexten Kachama that the three were not charged with treason, but that they gave caution statements on treason.
Chakhwantha, a lawyer who is also chairperson of Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, said he was baffled when police told them they were free to travel outside the country.
He said: “Our lawyer inquired from them if there were any conditions to the bails which were given to us on own surety. He also asked if we could be allowed to travel outside Malawi. I wondered where on earth police can allow treason suspects to travel outside their country. This is one more reason we say the arrests were politically motivated.”
National Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa said he could not comment on the issue of the suspects being allowed to travel because he was not there when they called at police and he was not in the office yesterday.
Asked on the progress of investigations, Gondwa said he could not tell how long it would take, but hinted that more evidence was coming in.
Gondwa said efforts were being made to have a fourth suspect, reportedly outside Malawi, back home.
In February, the three were arrested over a WhatsApp discussion that the police said was seditious.
Their arrests stirred controversy and almost derailed Parliament proceedings as the two legislators were arrested during sitting of the National Assembly, a development the Parliament’s Committee on Privileges condemned.
The developments even forced Speaker Richard Msowoya to adjourn proceedings prematurely on the basis that, he personally, and MPs were not assured of their security.
The IG was consequently summoned to appear before the Committee on Privileges, a thing which he did, and a source said the meeting with the IG was cordial but did not elaborate. n