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Documents derail Paul Mphwiyo’s case

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Lawyers for former budget director, Paul Mphwiyo, and his co-accused in the K2.4 billion Cashgate case Thursday failed to start the cross-examination of first state witness, Leonard Kalonga, due to demands for more documents and other administrative issues.

Last month, lawyers for Mphwiyo demanded the production of some treasury and Reserve Bank of Malawi documents before Kalonga’s cross-examination starts and the state has received letters of requests for such and other documents from all defence lawyers except one.

The case was set for hearing from Monday to today but that arrangement failed to materialise due to similar challenges.

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Before yesterday’s sitting, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale, who is the lead prosecutor in the case, conferred with the defence lawyers on the way forward before taking their resolutions to judge Esmie Chombo’s chamber.

When the court sat, Kachale said the sitting could not go beyond the confirmation of what will happen next month.

She said the two sides have made commitments to ensure that when the court sits for hearing from March 6 to March 10, the state shall have submitted the demanded documents and the defence will be ready for cross-examination.

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According to Kachale, the state will be ready to submit all documents that are relevant and have no unresolved issues with Mphwiyo’s lawyers by Tuesday next week.

“Counsel for the first accused, Paul Mphwiyo, have made a commitment that they shall be ready on sixth of March to cross-examine Mr Kalonga. Counsel for the second accused, Mr David Kandoje, has also said they will be ready by that date. Other counsels say so long as the first accused will have been cross-examined, they will have no problems. So, 6 to 10 March hearing is secured,” Kachale said.

She said they have also agreed that the administrative issues that exist should not go unresolved beyond February 28 and at the next sitting they shall set hearing dates for April, May, June and July.

Chombo said she hopes the parties will demonstrate some sense of urgency and that when cross-examination starts issues of relevant questions will be paramount.

“Looking at the number of counsels and their clients in this case, I am sorry, I will be stingy with time,” Chombo said.

The case has a total of 19 accused people and 14 defence lawyers.

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