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State opposes Joyce Banda’s application

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The State Wednesday challenged an application for judicial review by former president Joyce Banda on a warrant of arrest that the police issued against her.

Banda, through her lawyer Bright Theu, made the application to the court to pave way for judicial review. This was after the Malawi Police Service issued a warrant of arrest against Banda on allegations that she was involved in the massive looting of billions of tax payers’ money dubbed Cashgate.

However, during hearing in chambers at the High Court in Blantyre, Attorney General Charles Mhango opposed the application.

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“This was an application by Joyce Banda for leave to apply for judicial review. Her lawyers made the application which I responded [to]. We have opposed the application simply because this is not a case fit for judicial review,” Mhango said.

Mhango could, however, not divulge reasons for refusing the application for fear of what he described as “judicial prejudice”.

However, the defence, through lawyer Theu, argued that the action by the State on the matter was uncalled for, as the warrant of arrest was issued few hours after Banda communicated that she is ready to return home.

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Theu said, basing on Banda’s liberty, they felt convinced to apply for judicial review on the matter.

“Grounds for seeking review on behalf of former President Joyce Banda are that we feel the State has taken measures that implicate her right to liberty and security as a person as well as to receive information that is held by the State. Such information is necessary for the exercise of her rights. We think that the warrant of arrest is unnecessary; it is a drastic measure. If the state wants her for any criminal proceedings, there is a better way of summoning her and she will be readily available to such proceedings by the State.

“In this case the day the warrant was published, she had, barely in the hours prior to that, called the State through one of the officials, indicating her desire to come back home. She was following up on her arrangements in terms of benefits as former President and then, hours later, there was a publication of this warrant of arrest. We see that she is someone who is readily available to avail herself to attend to any criminal proceedings,” Theu said.

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Justice Mvundula has reserved his ruling on the matter to a later date.

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