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Child rights advocates plead with DPP

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Esmie Tembenu

Child rights advocates have asked the Ministry of Justice to expedite the prosecution of Wim Akster,a Dutch national who is answering two criminal cases in relation to the trafficking of three girls and another one of sexually molesting six learners and three men.

Eye of the Child Advocacy Officer Memory Chisenga said delays that had marred the case were worrying, especially because Malawi Police Service officials had finalised investigations and committed the case to court in November last year.

“We are further aware that his lawyer raised preliminary objection, in the case involving the nine boys, that challenges constitutionality of the sections under which he was charged and that a Chief Resident Magistrate sustained the said preliminary objection and referred the matter to the Chief Justice for certification,” she said.

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Office of the Ombudsman launched its own inquiry into the case after receiving reports that the case file had gone missing at the court. The file has been found.

“We are deeply concerned that, as we stand, both cases have stalled. The delay is traumatising to alleged victims. We are also mindful that the right of an accused to a speedy trial is fundamental and should be effectuated and protected by set specific limits on the time within which the defendant must be brought to trial,” she said.

Meanwhile, Family Rights Elderly and Child Protection Executive Director Esmie Tembenu has urged the Director of Public Prosecutions to intervene in the matter.

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Tembenu said there must be a clear timeframe for trial of both cases from commencement to disposition.

Akster, a former employee of Timotheos Foundation, was arrested in April 2020 on allegations of sexually molesting six students who were at the time beneficiaries of Timotheos scholarships and bursaries and three men.

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