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ACB wants bail conditions imposed on Mpinganjira

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it wants bail conditions to be imposed on Thom Mpinganjira, a business tycoon who was arrested by ACB during the week in connection with reports that some people wanted to bribe judges hearing the presidential nullification petition.

In an interview with Malawi News yesterday, ACB Director General Reyneck Matemba said the bureau wants the conditions imposed on him while the High Court reviews the Zomba-based principal resident magistrate’s Ben Chitsakamile’s decision of cancelling Mpinganira’s warrant of arrest.

“All in all as, I indicated yesterday [Thursday] that when we arrest someone and they are taken to court during the time they are being granted bail, the court normally imposes conditions that is what we are interested in.

“We should be able to control Dr Thom Mpinganjira’s movements, we should be able to know where he is generally, he should not be able to travel without us knowing and there is need for him to provide to court reliable and traceable witnesses. Basically, the issue is when trial starts, he is available for trial, once we get there, we will have to give the High Court our side of the story and we should be able to ask the court to impose conditions on his bail,” he said.

However, Rirtz and Attorney’s lawyers representing Mpinganjira declined to comment on the matter.

Lusungu Gondwe refereed us to Patrice Nkhono who later refused to give us a comment.

“I cannot give you a comment on that,” he said.

The bureau has since made a formal application to the High Court in Blantyre to review Chitsakamile’s decision to release Mpinganjira Wednesday midnight.

“On our part, as the bureau, what we want is to have the order that was made by the magistrate in Zomba set aside and a warrant of arrest reinstated or any other that the court may make.

“Yesterday [Thursday] we had a communication from the High Court that they will review the decision of the magistrate’s court that was in Zomba but again we were communicated to by the registrar that we should make a formal application and that is where we are. Chances are high that the application will be heard next either Monday or Tuesday,” he said.

ACB’s application comes at a time when the Judiciary described the move by Chitsakamile as irregular.

The order, which Chitsakamile issued is contrary to Section 96 (3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code which says every warrant shall remain in force until it is executed or until it is cancelled by the court which issued it.

In view of this, Registrar of the High Court Agnes Patemba Thursday said the court was reviewing the order after noting the irregularities.

However, Friday via a text message, Patemba said there was no update yet from the court.

“There is nothing yet,” she said.

Last week, Matemba said the bureau was pursuing reports that an individual from the private sector and an officer from the civil service were among those who wanted to bribe the judges.

This prompted Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to hold demonstrations last Thursday to push ACB to reveal the names of the suspects while Malawi Law Society called for speedy investigations and arrests.

In a statement Thursday, HRDC also condemned the order cancelling Mpinganjira’s warrant of arrest.

“If justice is not seen on this case, HRDC will be mobilising Malawians to have a mother of all demonstrations in Malawi,” the coalition says.

Mpinganjira was arrested Wednesday morning on allegations that he was linked to reports that some people wanted to bribe five judges hearing the presidential election case.

Following the order, Mpinganjira was released at around midnight Wednesday from Blantyre Police Station where he was being held.

Justices Healy Potani, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo are hearing the elections case in which UTM and Malawi Congress Party presidents Saulos Chilima and Lazarus Chakwera respectively are challenging May 21 presidential poll results citing irregularities.

The judges concluded hearing the case on December 20 2019 and pledged to deliver a ruling within 45 days which end on February 3 this year.

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