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Defence prays for time to study Hellen Buluma evidence

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SOKO— We cannot do a half-baked job

The High Court sitting in Lilongwe has granted the defence’s plea for ample time before it starts cross-examining National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) Deputy Chief Executive Officer Hellen Buluma in the fuel importation corruption case.

The case involves former Energy minister Newton Kambala, former Presidential Adviser Chris Chaima Banda and Alliance for Democracy president Enock Chihana.

The defence was expected to cross-examine Buluma Wednesday, but, instead, asked for ample time to study Buluma’s evidence.

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Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) Director-General Martha Chizuma told journalists that the State was ready to go into cross-examination.

She, however, said it received a letter from the defence that the two sides should meet in chamber.

“When we went into the chamber, that is what they were advancing to the court— that they were not ready and that, in the interest of justice, the matter had to be adjourned so that they can prepare their cross-examination,” she said.

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Chizuma said the matter would be back in court on June 27 this year.

One of the defence lawyers, Khumbo Soko, said the defence was not ready with cross-examination because there is a lot of material, including documents, that Buluma has provided to the court.

“We need to properly go through that material and present ourselves as ready advocates. Our clients are fighting for their life.

“It is important that we show up ready; we cannot do a half-baked job,” Soko said.

ACB arrested Kambala, Chihana and Chaima Banda in August last year for allegedly attempting to influence Buluma to award contracts to Orxy, Finergy and Trafigura companies.

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