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Mphwiyo case; witnesses being intimidated

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PUBLIC prosecutor in the case involving former National Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others has filed an application asking the court to revoke Mphwiyo’s bail for interfering with state witnesses.

In November last year, Mphwiyo pleaded not guilty to charges related to the K2.4 billion money laundering case in which he is among the accused. Mphwiyo, alongside other civil servants including former accountant general, David Kandoje, is answering several charges such as money laundering, theft by public servant and conspiring to defraud government funds amounting to about K2.4 billion.

In a latest development, public prosecutor Enoch Chibwana on June 23 2017 filed a sworn affidavit to the court in which he says Mphwiyo has been interfering with witnesses.

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The case, number 35 of 2014, involves the Republic versus Paul Montfort Mphwiyo and 18 others. In the affidavit, Chibwana indicates that he has learned of the issues of interference through his role as public prosecutor appointed by the Director of Public Prosecutions. He cites affidavits of some of the prosecution’s witnesses.

“That I refer to the affidavits deponed by Yacks Bonongwe, Felix Mkuka and Oyster Chisale filed in support of this application. That the aforementioned affidavits demonstrate that from around January 2016 to date the 1st accused has, indirectly or indirectly (sic), contacted three of the prosecution witnesses, namely Leonard Kalonga, Daniel Jenya and Francis Zhuwawo.

“That the Respondent has contacted the prosecution witnesses despite being warned in or around January 2016 of the inappropriateness of this action and being asked to desist from contacting prosecution witnesses by Assistant Commissioner Chisale. That the contacted witnesses all expressed apprehension upon being contacted and this apprehension was not restricted to their personal safety but the safety of their family,” reads part of the affidavit.

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The affidavit, which has been filed by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, indicates that no witness has turned hostile since the first Respondent was asked to desist from contacting prosecution witness in January 2016. It, nevertheless, describes Mphwiyo’s actions as “intimidation”.

It argues “That the Respondent’s actions are tantamount to a campaign of intimidation; and though to date no witness has turned hostile or recanted their evidence, the possibility cannot be dismissed, particularly in cases where a witness may fear” for their personal safety, further asking the court to help the prosecution team protect its witnesses.

Reads the affidavit: “That the interests of justice require that the remaining prosecution witnesses be protected from the campaign of intimidation orchestrated by the Respondent and furthermore it must be demonstrated that under no circumstances will witness tampering be tolerated.

“That in view of the foregoing, I submit that the interests of justice require that the bail of the Respondent be revoked due to witnesses’ interference. Therefore I humbly pray that the bail of Paul Montfort Mphwiyo be invoked in the interest of justice and public interest.”

High Court Judge Esmie Chombo once observed that the case is rare since it is involving over 10 witnesses and 19 suspects.

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