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13 cops face murder charge

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Thirteen police officers who were recently arrested in connection with the death of Buleya Lule are expected to answer murder charges contrary to Section 209 of the Penal Code, according to particulars read out by Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba in Lilongwe yesterday.

Lule died in police custody in February last year after being picked by the police in relation to the abduction and murder of a 14-year-old boy with albinism Goodson Fanizo.

Nyimba read the particulars of the case which were authorised by Director of Public Prosecutions Mary Kachale which indicate that the 13 cops caused Lule’s death.

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“[The accused] on or about the 20th day of February, 2019 at or around Chitsime Police Unit and Central Region Police Headquarters in the City of Lilongwe with malice aforethought, caused the death of Buleya Lule,” Nyimba said.

The suspects have been identified as Paul Chipole, Ikraim Malata, Richard Kalawire, Innocent Wanda, Steve Mashonga, Maxwell Mbidzi, Abel Maseya, Dereck Mtswati, Wallen Chavinda, Ronnex Kapesa, Robert Tchaka, Chifundo Chiwambo and Evalista Goodwin Mvula.

One of the four lawyers representing the accused, Enock Chibwana—who is the former Ombudsman— asked the court to order that the suspects remain in police custody for their protection against harm at Maula Prison where they have since been remanded.

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But Chief State Advocate Jean Priminta objected to the application and told the court that the suspects cannot be given special attention.

Nyimba agreed with the state and dismissed the application and said it lacked legal basis.

An autopsy report presented by pathologist Charles Dzamalala showed that Lule was assaulted with different types of instruments, including but not limited to a cylindrical object, inflicting injury to the head.

The report further said a hot iron or similar object was placed on a cloth over the skin rather than directly onto the skin around Lule’s left buttock.

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) conducted an enquiry into Lule’s death and recommended criminal proceedings against all police officers and others suspected to have tortured the victim to death.

Lule was one of the key suspects in Goodson’s death but he was later cleared by the MHRC probe.

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