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Raphael Kasambara can represent co-accused— lawyer

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Lawyer Michael Chipeta has differed with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale, saying former Justice Minister Raphael Kasambara can still represent a client despite being an accused in a conspiracy to murder case of former Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance, Paul Mphwiyo.

Chipeta said this in an interview after a court session that took place in Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Lovemore Chikopa’s chamber yesterday.

“When a lawyer is an accused person, it does not mean that is he is guilty. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty, not so? So if he is an accused person and as a professional lawyer he is given instructions to represent someone and that someone happens to be his co-accused, in our jurisprudence— in Malawi—there doesn’t seem to be any clear steps that say a lawyer cannot do that,” he said.

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Chipeta said if the DPP wants to say the process is improper, she should show how it can be contrary to the code of ethics laid down by the Malawi Law Society (MLS).

“One would have to prove if there’s an irregularity in form of conflict of interest but not otherwise. When you say they are co-accused persons, it does not make the lawyer unprofessional,” argued Chipeta, adding that a lawyer is under a moral duty to represent the best interest of the client unless there are issues of conflict of interest.

When asked on what capacity he was responding to the issue, Chipeta said the response was a result of the issue raised by the DPP in respect to the affidavit Mr Kasambara swore.

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He said Kumwembe, a former Malawi Defence Force soldier, has now appointed him as his lawyer, replacing Kasambara whose bail was revoked last month by Justice Michael Mtambo.

According to Chipeta, Kumwembe wants the court to grant a stay order against a four-month imprisonment that Justice Mtambo imposed on Kumwembe for contempt of court.

On the other hand, the accused wants the High Court Judge to recuse himself from the case.

However, Kachale only said the court heard similar issues she raised on September 30.

She said after the submission, Chikopa advised both parties that a ruling on all the issues will be delivered this Friday.

Kasambara appealed against his bail revocation and is arguing that the judge erred in law and in fact to revoke the bail when there was no evidence or sufficient evidence to support the revocation.

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