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High Court denies Cashgate suspect bail

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High Court Judge Ruth Chinangwa last week dismissed a bail application from Steve Phiri, who is the second accused in the Paul Mphwiyo and others Cashgate case.

Cashgate refers to the alleged plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.

Chinangwa further ordered all concerned parties to file their submissions by January 4 this year.

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State lawyer Mathews Gamadzi confirmed that the matter was in court last week.

“On 29th August 2022, bail for Steve Phiri was revoked for witness interference. On 30th August 2022, he made an application for restoration of bail through Wilkson and Associates lawyers but the application was dismissed.

“Then, in November, he made another application for restoration of bail through Khonyongwa and Associates lawyers and, on 30th December 2022, the court dismissed this application,” Gamadzi said.

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The judge said the accused was supposed to appeal to the Supreme Court and not to the same court.

Phiri was accused of interfering with the court process. He is accused of sending a text message to a witness as trial was in progress.

“This court agrees with the State that there was interference because Phiri sent the text after the witness mentioned his name while trial was in progress…all in all the bail application is denied and the applicant will remain in custody,” Chinangwa said.

She revoked Phiri’s bail after State witness Stanford Mpoola informed the court that Phiri sent a text message to him while he was giving his testimony.

Mpoola said Phiri asked him why he was implicating other people in the course of hearing the matter.

During the court hearing last year, Mpoola implicated former president Joyce Banda and politician Brown Mpinganjira in the case, alleging that the two benefitted from Cashgate money.

He said one of the Cashgate convicts instructed him to deliver money to the two then.

The hearing of the K2.4 billion Cashgate case involving former budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 14 others was completed last year, nine years after it commenced.

The case closed with cross-examination of the 11th accused person Mpoola by the State and re-examination by the defence lawyers.

Chinangwa, who is hearing the matter, said the court intends to deliver its ruling by March 2023 or not later than June 2023.

Suspended Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni told journalists after the conclusion of the case that the court gave the parties 90 days to file their submissions.

“The court document is quite voluminous and, in the meantime, each party will be allowed to collect it electronically. We are talking [of] over six thousand pages. The court has asked each party to file its submissions by November 30 2022 before it makes its determination on the matter,” Kayuni said.

Mphwiyo was arrested in 2014 after being suspected to have played a part in looting at Capital Hill which, despite being uncovered during Banda’s reign, was believed to have begun before she took office.

The revelation in September 2013 resulted in the British and Germany governments sponsoring an independent audit that focused on transactions made through the Integrated Financial Management and Information System.

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