The Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe has granted bail to former president Joyce Banda’s sister, Cecilia Kumpukwe, and two others who are being suspected to have written a letter purporting that Vice President Saulos Chilima has resigned.
Kumpukwe, Stella Assani and Yesaya Mkwala were arrested in connection with the “resignation letter” which is dated April 15, 2017.
The three were granted bail after Senior Resident Magistrate Chisomo Msokera, dismissed an application by the state that they should be given seven days to continue their investigations.
In his ruling, Msokera said the State, which was being represented by Mwabi Kalua and Napier Chafikana, did not give sufficient reasons to compel the court to give the State the seven days.
He, therefore, granted the three suspects bail on condition that they pay a bail bond of K100,000 cash each and provide two sureties each, with a non-cash bond of K150,000 each.
Kumpukwe and Assani are each expected to report to Southern Region Police Headquarters every Tuesday before 12:00pm, while Yesaya is supposed to report to National Police Headquarters, the same day.
They are all also supposed to surrender their travel documents. Msokera has since adjourned the case to May 29, 2017.
Before the bail issue, the three were told that each one of them was answering two counts relating to the letter they are suspected to have authored.
According to what Msokera read in court, the three are answering charges of making a false document and publication of false news likely to cause fear in the public.
The suspects have, however, not taken plea.
After the suspects were told the charges, the State applied to keep the suspects in custody so that they conclude their investigations.
But defence lawyers, Bright Theu, Chimwemwe Sikwese and Nicely Msowoya objected to the application, arguing that the State had ample time to conclude the investigations.
Msowoya, who is representing Assani, said it would be unfair to keep her in custody for two weeks.
“The basis must be formed before an arrest. The State had six days to conclude investigations with respect to the first accused person. The State needs to provide justification on why they need seven days,” Msowoya said.
But Kalua insisted that the application was made in the interest of justice.
People’s Party (PP) Acting President Uladi Mussa and other senior party officials were present in court. Scores of party supporters were outside the court.
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