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I am excited — Raphael Kasambara

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It was all smiles for former minister of Justice and Attorney General Raphael Kasambara Wednesday when the Supreme Court of Appeal granted him temporary relief from prison since his conviction in July 2016

Kasambara, who started serving 13 years for being convicted of conspiracy to murder, went home after over a year in prison while his co-convicts, Macdonald Kumwembe and Pika Manondo, who were sentenced to 15 years each, had to go back to Zomba Maximum Prison pending the appeal on their conviction.

Kumwembe and Manondo were convicted of conspiracy to murder and attempting to murder former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo in September 2016.

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Spotting a black suit and red tie, Kasambara looked visibly happy.

“I was charged with conspiring to murder and, then, with attempting to murder. And the same judge [Michael] Mtambo said I didn’t agree to murder someone. So, how did he convict me of conspiracy because if I agreed with someone to murder someone and the judge says that is not true, he cannot turn around and say I conspired to murder,” Kasambara said outside the court room soon after the ruling.

Justice Dunstan Mwaungulu, sitting as a single justice of the Supreme Court of Appeal, read his 20-page judgement for about two hours, saying, apart from call logs, the State never proved any misconduct and did not prove motive of conspiracy to murder.

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“The State never proved any conduct or misconduct on which a conspiracy could be inferred, “ Mwaungulu said in the judgement.

He said, where there is a likelihood that the appeal will succeed, the court must consider where there is an application for bail.

“The first consideration, therefore, on interests of justice, is whether the interests of justice would be served by confinement of the prisoner. The onus is on the State to demonstrate that the interests of justice will be served by confinement. In principle, courts compelled by law and principle, lean towards the liberty of an individual, more so where the court concludes that there is prospect of the appeal succeeding,” he said.

He further said, as long as the appellant is innocent, it is in the interest of justice that the prisoner should not spend any minute longer in prison.

“In this case, therefore, I order that the 1st and 2nd appellants will remain in prison until the disposal of the appeal. The 3rd appellant should be released on bail immediately on the same conditions of bail as ordered by the court below before trial,” he said.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Mary Kachale, declined to comment on the ruling

“We do not have the judgement. We have to go through it first. So, as of now, no comment,” she said.

Immediately after the judgement, Kachale asked Mwaungulu if they could meet in chamber together with lawyers representing the convicts.

Kachale refused to disclose the subject of the discussions.

However, Kasambara told the press that Kachale wanted to file an application to suspend his bail.

“They want to make two applications; the first application is to have my bail suspended; the second one is that she wants to apply before nine judges that they should consider revoking my bail,” Kasambara said.

Kasambara and his colleagues filed the application for bail pending appeal in March 2017.

Kasambara was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment while Manondo and Kumwembe were given 15 years each.

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