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Court frees July 20 police officer

By Faith Kamtambe:

The Supreme Court of Appeal has overturned a conviction which the High Court imposed on police officer Stewart Lobo, who was accused of shooting dead Lilongwe resident, George Thekere in 2011.

In 2016, High Court Judge Fiona Mwale sentenced Lobo to 12 years imprisonment, following the death of Thekere in Chilinde Township on July 21 2011, a day after anti-government demonstrations against the regime of the then president Bingu wa Mutharika.

On Tuesday, a panel of nine judges ruled that the State had failed to prove that Lobo killed the deceased.

“The overarching question is whether, on the evidence, the State has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant shot and killed the deceased. The evidence falls short of proving beyond doubt that the police man, who shot and killed the deceased at Chilinde, is the appellant. There is a possibility that the shooter could have been a police man other than the appellant.”

“As the law requires all of us, we will resolve the doubt in favour of the appellant by way of acquittal. The conviction is, hereby, quashed. The sentence imposed, in respect thereof, is set aside. The appellant will, forthwith, be set at liberty unless there are some other limitations against the same,” reads part of the judgement.

The panel comprised of Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and justices Edward Twea, Jane Ansah, Rizine Mzikamanda, Anacklet Chipeta and Lovemore Chikopa.

Lobo appealed the case to the Supreme Court through Legal Aid Bureau’s lawyers.

Some of the grounds of appeal were insufficient evidence from the State proving that he was on the material day, on patrol duties within Chilinde and that he was assigned a gun and ammunition.

Lobo, who was, working at Kawale Police Station, was found with a case to answer in May 2015.

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