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Court rebuffs Paul Mphwiyo, others

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The High Court sitting in Lilongwe Thursday threw out an application by former budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others, who wanted it to discontinue their K2.4 billion case.

In their application, Mphwiyo and 18 others made several prayers, including asking the court to stay the case permanently and submitting that Judge Esme Chombo recuse herself in the case as she was due for retirement.

The accused were also asking the court that Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda be summoned to appear before the court “to be cross-examined” on matters surrounding the extension of the office of Chombo; and the nullification of the proceedings.

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But in her ruling, Chombo dismissed the application in its entirety.

She, however, observed that, since her mandate expires on June 1 this year, it was clear that not much could be done within the remaining time before the due date.

“In my view, therefore, the only option is to refer the matter to the Judge President, Criminal Division, for further directions,” Chombo ruled.

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She said her tenure as a judge was extended following due processes involving the Judicial Service Commission, the Chief Justice and the President in late 2018 for 18 months before being extended again in June last year for 12 months ending on June 1 this year.

Chombo said the court was not the appropriate forum for the review of the decisions and actions of the Judicial Service Commission, the Chief Justice, the Chief Secretary and Registrar of the High Court.

“It, therefore, logically follows that this court should similarly decline, and does decline, to entertain the application for nullification of proceedings in that regard.

“To that end, since there has been no court of law with an appropriate mandate that has impugned the decisions/ actions/communications about the extension of tenure as communicated to the Trial Judge, this court will have proceeded, as it has always done, on the mandate as communicated to it through the communications exhibited by the Honourable Registrar, Her Honour Gladys Gondwe. The application for nullification by the defence is therefore dismissed,” the ruling reads.

She added that it was disingenuous for the defence to seek a permanent stay or complete nullification of these proceedings based on the discharge of the Trial Court’s case management responsibilities.

Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni said the State would wait for the court to set a date for continuation of the case.

Mphwiyo was shot at the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013 during the administration of Joyce Banda.

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