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Judge threatens to free murder suspects

Five out of 13 implicated in the murder of police officer Sergeant Patrick Mvula, and a suspected armed robbery of K112 million from First Merchant Bank (FMB) are said to have died at the hands of the Police.

This came to light as the case came for trial before High Court Judge Dorothy Kamanga but the proceedings failed to continue as planned due to several irregularities occasioned by the State.

The development prompted Kamanga to warn the State that she would free the accused persons because the State was failing to take charge of the case.

“Counsel, let’s be serious…My file has lots of charge sheets not stamped. The defence, state and this court want to see justice in this matter. Can you show me your charge sheet if it is stamped?” asked Kamanga.

State lawyer, Andrew Salamba, blamed the anomalies on officers who helped him in filing the documents.

Among other irregularities, one charge sheet showed that there were three accused persons: Felix Matope, Keston Mbewe and Masautso Gulaya while the other charge sheet indicated that there were four suspects, including Mulli Bwanali. To add to the irregularities, some of the suspects on remand were not present in court.

In addition, the state wants to add Abel Chigwadala and Thomson Kamwendo on murder charges. Both are currently on remand.

Because of these irregularities, Kamanga asked: “Explain to us Mr Salamba why you are here in legal terms.”

Salamba then said the case relied on the Director of Public Prosecutions for guidance and told the court that murder cases do not have time limit for prosecution.

But Kamanga hit back, saying the law may take its course if the State delayed commencement of the trial, adding that investigations could not be indefinite after an arrest is done.

After noting that the case could not proceed as desired by the State, Kamanga asked both parties to guide the court.

Both defence lawyers Michael Chipeta and Wanangwa Hara asked the court to adjourn the case for October 26 for plea taking and direction on how the case would be conducted.

The State did not object, instead it pledged to furnish the defence team with the disclosures by this coming Friday.

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