Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda on Tuesday threw out an application by former president Bakili Muluzi’s legal counsel aimed at seeking certification of the K1.7 billion case for judicial review.
The Daily Times has learnt that the application was not submitted to the court following normal procedures.
Instead, the Court has given Counsel Tamando Chokotho and the State up-to August 14 this year to thoroughly prepare for the case which dates back to 2006.
Muluzi is answering charges of abuse of office and theft.
On April 8, 2015, Chokotho moved the High Court to refer the matter to the Chief Justice following rule 8(1) of the court rules, to certify the constitutional issues raised as befitting for Constitution interpretation.
However, upon weighing the grounds raised by the defence team, which is led by Chokotho, the Chief Justice found them inadequate to compel him hear the submissions from both teams because of some grey areas.
The defence, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Deputy Director Reyneck Matemba and Judiciary Spokesperson Mlenga Mvula declined to outline the grounds the judge felt needed to be addressed.
“After hearing from both sides, the Chief Justice raised a number of legal questions which both parties failed to respond to. The Judge has adjourned the case to August 14 so that they should have ample time do some research on the case,” Mvula said.
He, however, hinted that the legal questions surround the grounds raised by the defence team seeking the Court to certify the matter to the constitutional court on allegations that the State breached the constitution in dragging the former president to court.
Chokotho told this reporter to check the grounds on the court files, saying his client has not instructed him to speak to the media.
But Matemba said upon looking at the application the Chief Justice felt that they were other issues that the application did not adequately address.
“So what the Chief Justice has done is to request both parties to address the court on those issues. But the issues are a bit technical, I prefer if counsel Chokotho would spell out the issues himself,” he said.
The defence counsel is arguing that the late former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s conduct in using criminal proceedings against Muluzi was purely on political grounds not based on his responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution and to provide executive leadership in the interest of national unity as provided for in section 88(1) of the constitution.
Muluzi further questions the former Attorney General (AG) and Director of Anti-Corruption Bureau’s (ACB) conduct in attempting to fabricate evidence against Muluzi’s right to fair trial provided for in section 42(2) of the Constitution.
And on the third ground, Muluzi wants the Court to rule that Bingu’s conduct in instructing the Director of the ACB to arrest him for political reasons and the subsequent arrest and consent to prosecute by the Director of Public Prosecutions undermined the independence of the Director of the ACB and the Director of Public Prosecutions, provided for in section 101
of the Constitution and section 4(3) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
Over the past years, legal wrangling and Muluzi’s ill health contributed to the delay of the case.
Since stepping down from office after two five year terms, Muluzi has been in and out of local and foreign hospitals receiving medical treatment.
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