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Judge dresses down Raphael Kasambara

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A composed and cheerful High Court Judge, Michael Mtambo, on Tuesday dressed down convicted former minister of justice, Raphael Kasambara, describing his conduct during the three-year trial period as not befitting status of Senior Counsel and former attorney general and justice minister, before sentencing him to 13 years imprisonment.

Mtambo told Kasambara in the face that he was disappointed with a number of remarks the convict made in court which the Judge said were in bad taste and at times intimidating.

Kasambara, who for most of the sentencing period kept facing down, did not look shocked when Mtambo pronounced the sentence on him and instead seemed lost in thought.

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“You did not demonstrate any good conduct befitting someone of your status. You were intimidating the DPP and you showed no remorse or regret and you were busy laughing during trial. When the victim came to testify and you were doing cross-examination, you said something and I’m not sure if the time. You said when he went to South Africa with Mphwiyo, they were busy picking prostitutes.

“That was said in the heat of the moment but how can one say such things when the wife doesn’t know about such transgression. That was not appropriate conduct by you being a Senior Counsel,” Mtambo told the jam-packed courtroom.

Both Pika Manondo and Macdonald Kumwembe who have been slapped with 15 years each for attempted murder and 11 years for conspiracy to commit murder charges, to run consecutively, listened attentively to every word by the judge and looked in disbelief.

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Earlier when the court reconvened for oral submissions, lawyer Modecai Msiska was introduced in court to lead Kasambara’s defence team comprising Lusungu Gondwe and Wanangwa Hara.

In his submissions, Msiska argued that at no time whatsoever did his client behave in a way that would be presumed as a danger to society, saying that if there was such evidence it had not been presented in court.

But Mtambo questioned the defence lawyer if he was aware that his client had seen his bail revoked capriciously, to which Msiska replied that he was not.

Nonetheless, Msiska pleaded with the court to be guided by the Constitution in meting out the sentence and not apply wholesale judgments from United Kingdom which were cited by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mary Kachale, during oral submissions.

Said Kachale during her submissions: “This crime qualifies to level one which attracts a minimum of 30 years in the UK. This was a cold calculated offence in the manner it was committed. To the 1st convict, this was a business service. The 2nd convict used his ability to organise the killing of the person. To him it was just an errand, whilst Kasambara paid for the killing. Nothing can be more calculating than that.”

The two sides also argued at length as to where the two charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder were distinctive or not and whether it warranted a concurrent or consecutive sentencing.

Surprisingly, Kasambara through his lawyer told the court that he regrets his behaviour and conduct during the trial period and that he was remorseful.

Meanwhile, Mtambo has reserved his ruling on bail pending trial for the convicts who have taken the matter to Supreme Court, saying he will communicate through email by September 28 on whether he will grant such freedom.

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