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Defence tears charge sheet in Newton Kambala case

Martha Chizuma

Chris Chaima Banda

Defence lawyers in the case in which former Energy minister Newton Kambala, Alliance for Democracy president Enoch Chihana and former chief presidential adviser on strategy Chris Chaima Banda are answering charges of political interference in the award of fuel importation contracts by Nocma on Thursday tore apart the five counts levelled against the accused.

Kambala, Chihana and Chaima Banda appeared in court Thursday to retake plea in the case following an amendment to the charge sheet by the State.

Defence lawyer Khumbo Soko told the court that the new charge sheet lacked clarity, necessitating the need for the court to dismiss the case.

Among other things, the defence argued that the charges could not give the exact time when the offence was committed as the State just mentions of a period between September and November 2020.

The defence also faulted the State for failing to spell out the advantage that Kambala wanted to get when he referred Nocma

Deputy Chief Executive Officer to Trafigura, one of the firms that tendered for the fuel importation business.

On his part, lawyer for Chihana, Gilbert Khonyongwa, faulted the State for what he described as multiplicity of the charges, saying some of the charges could be combined into one.

But the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) defended the charge sheet in its submission.

ACB Director General Martha Chizuma, in an interview outside the court, described the objections as technical in nature and not substantive.

Chizuma also faulted the defence for coming up with the objections to the charge sheet late, saying the State filed the charge sheet on October 1 2020.

But another defence lawyer, George Mtchuka Mwale, said they were waiting for the matter to come to court to make the objections.

Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has adjourned the case to Monday.

ACB arrested Kambala, Chihana and Chaima Banda in August for allegedly attempting to influence Nocma Deputy Chief Executive Officer Hellen Buluma to award contracts to Orxy, Finergy and Trafigura.

The three were granted bail by the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Court two days later.

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