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Race against time in Paul Mphwiyo case

The State and defence lawyers in a K2.4 billion Cashgate case that former budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others are answering are today expected to argue on the State’s fresh application for the court sitting time extension from the current five days a month to 10 days.

The application comes at a time the State has only managed to parade four out of 40 witnesses in the case.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mary Kachale, said the State feels five days in a month are not adequate for a case as complex as the one in question.

But lead defence lawyer, Titus Mvalo, has already hinted that the defence will argue against the extension of days and the two sides are going to “vehemently” argue about that.

When the State raised the issue during the April court sitting, the defence objected and said the issue should be raised during the July sitting.

Kachale said the State has done research across other jurisdictions and they have observed that such cases are given priority in terms of time to ensure that the time the case takes is reduced.

“We have used relevant statutory statutes to support our position and the defence counsels have already been served with necessary documents on that,” Kachale said.

The dates for the case hearing in the months of September, October and November this year are expected to be set on Friday and the State has pushed for two versions of those dates.

“There will be tentative 10 days in a month. Five days are binding and others are dependent upon what the court will say,” she said.

Mvalo said the defence has agreed to the process of including tentative dates on the schedule for the three months but it is against more than five days a month.

“But we will not argue as of now. It will be tempting to argue on the application,” Mvalo said.

The court has also failed to hear the case since Tuesday afternoon as one of the defence lawyers, Powell Nkhutabasa, wants the State to produce an email of copy of cheque images that Mercy Kumbatira of Reserve Bank of Malawi is said to have copied different government departments in 2013.

Nkhutabasa insists that the copy needs to be produced for him to finalise the cross-examination of the fourth State witness, Francis Juwawo, to prove whether the office of the Accountant General, where one of the accused persons, Auzius Kazombo, was working, received the email or not.

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