High Court Judge Redson Kapindu Monday adjourned to July 25 2022 the case in which security aide to former president Peter Mutharika, Norman Chisale, and four others are answering 18 charges for allegedly importing cement using Mutharika’s duty-free privilege.
The four other accused people include former Malawi Revenue Authority deputy commissioner Roza Mbilizi, former Chief of Staff of State Residences Peter Mukhitho and businesspersons Ahmed and Mahmed Chunara.
The accused did not take a plea as scheduled, following preliminary issues that defence lawyers had raised through written submissions— such that the court only read out their charges.
Kapindu has since ordered the defence for all the accused to file and serve written submissions relating to preliminary objections within seven days while the State provides responses within seven days upon receipt of the submissions for the court to dispose of the issues before it reconvenes.
“In view of the advanced notices for preliminary files within the court, the accused shall not be required to take a plea, this is so in order to be compliant to requirements of Section 151(1) of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code,” he said.
After the adjournment, Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni said the preliminary issues are crucial before the accused takes a plea.
“These are issues that have to be tackled out of the charge sheet before the accused take a plea. They have to be attended to before the actual plea and directions of the case,” Kayuni said.
The five accused are answering charges of conspiracy to commit custom offences, money laundering and smuggling, among others, for importing 1.2 million bags of cement without payment of customs duty, purporting the same to be duty-free goods for the alleged use of former president Mutharika.
According to the charge sheet, the development culminated in the government being defrauded of K1.3 billion in customs duty.