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Lawyers’ battle in election case rages on

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One of the lawyers who represented Vice-President Saulos Chilima in the presidential election case, Khumbo Soko, has written Malawi Law Society (MLS), denying charges of intimidation and attempt at wrongfully influencing Lawyer Tamando Chokhotho to drop review of costs of the election case currently in the High Court.

In the letter dated September 22, 2020 addressed to MLS Honorary Secretary, Soko says he finds Chokhotho’s letter unreasonable, vile and malicious.

Soko confirmed authoring the letter yesterday, saying if MLS decides to summon him for hearing, he has no objection.

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On Monday MLS wrote Soko and co-accused Counsel Marshal Chilenga who both represented Chilima in the presidential election case to respond to the accusations levelled against them.

“Let me be very clear that I resolutely deny the charges of intimidation and attempt at wrongfully influencing Mr Chokhotho in his conduct of the above-mentioned court matter.

“I actually find the said allegations to be unreasonable, vile and malicious and specifically designed to injure my reputation as a legal practitioner. They actually border on harassment,” Soko said.

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While confirming that he sent a message to Chokhotho which the latter found intimidating, Soko said this was not the first time for the two lawyers to interact and that they have had conversations about the election case in general as well as the issue of costs in particular.

“It would be a sad day for this jurisdiction if honest interactions between counsels aimed at expeditiously resolving court matters would be stifled by an apprehension that their colleague on the other side would run screaming like a frightened toddler to the authorities alleging all sorts of fanciful ethical malfeasance,” reads part of the letter.

In an interview yesterday, MLS president Burton Mhango said they are still in the fact-finding stage to assess whether the matter is worth pursuing.

“So after that, if the matter is worth pursuing further, it is taken up to the disciplinary committee. At this stage, we are still at fact-finding where we are consulting the concerned parties to give their sides of the story.

“Right now I am aware that there is a letter from Counsel Soko who has responded to our enquiry. So we are still within that stage; we are assessing his letter. At an appropriate, time we will indicate whether the matter is worth pursuing further,” Mhango said.

After Chokhotho penned MLS, Chilenga said it is a good practice for lawyers to talk behind the scenes when handling matters and that the presidential election case and consequent review cases are not exceptional.

On August 10, 2020 High Court and Supreme Court Registrar, Agnes Patemba, awarded President Lazarus Chakwera and Chilima K7 billion in costs in the election case that was first heard by a panel of five High Court judges and the subsequent appeal in the Supreme Court.

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