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Raphael Kasambara hires lawyer

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Convicted former justice minister, Raphael Kasambara, has engaged Lusungu Gondwe as his lawyer in a case in which Kasambara faces up to 14 years in jail for conspiracy to commit murder of former budget director, Paul Mphwiyo, along side two other convicts Macdonald Kumwembe and Pika Manondo.

Since the start of the case in 2013 until the conviction in June, Kasambara has been representing himself and Gondwe was unveiled in court yesterday as his new non-legal counsel when the court reconvened to start hearing of oral arguments.

The Blantyre-based lawyer informed the court that he was involved in a car accident as he was travelling to Lilongwe from Blantyre for the hearing on Monday, and that his partner was seeking medical attention at Kamuzu Central Hospital.

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The defence lawyer, therefore, pleaded with the court for an adjournment, arguing that his performance in providing legal services to his client was compromised due to the absence of his partner.

“This is a 2013 matter. It has been running for a record three years and it must come to an end. We have a moral will to have this matter come to an eventual conclusion… my partner sustained injuries and he is seeking medical attention at Kamuzu Central Hospital, I feel for my partner. Our proposal is that the court should grant a short adjournment,” Gondwe said.

Earlier, Manondo and Kumwembe also applied for adjournments, saying the court did not communicate to the convicts about the date to start hearing of oral submissions, adding that they needed to submit relevant documents relating to sentencing.

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“I am asking for two working days, so that I submit documents relating to sentencing which will be copied to the DPP. I also intend to apply for bail pending hearing of appeal which will be filed to the court and will be ready during next sitting. No official from court or judiciary informed us of this date,” Manondo said.

Commenting on the applications by Manondo and Kumwembe, Gondwe said, “I constrain myself from committing on the reasons advanced. If the reasons are correct then I will join and pray for an adjournment to properly prepare for the sentencing.”

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mary Kachale, did not object to the applications, saying, for instance, Gondwe had demonstrated respect for the court by unveiling himself after going through trauma following the accident.

Heavily armed police and prison officers escorted the three convicts to the court. The three were not handcuffed as is the case with most convicts.

Meanwhile, Judge Michael Mtambo has ruled that Manondo and Kumwembe should file and serve their documents by Thursday this week and that the matter will come for hearing on August 30.

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