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State wants Bakili Muluzi to be tried separately

The State has applied for separation of trials in former President Bakili Muluzi and his former personal assistant Lyness Whiskey K1.7 billion corruption case to pave way for the continued hearing on the 12 charges solely meant for Muluzi as Whiskey continues receiving medical attention.

There are 15 corruption-related counts against Muluzi and out of them, Whiskey is answering three.

The court was forced to adjourn the case to yesterday after Whiskey was taken ill on Monday and received a medical recommendation of a three-day bed rest pending a review this coming Friday.

When the court reconvened Tuesday, one of the State lawyers, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Deputy Director Reyneck Matemba asked the court to adjourn the matter to May 3 this year to enable them to look at the case documents and strategise on how to proceed.

“When this case was being investigated, the Bureau investigated both and because of that you would notice that most of our witnesses were to come and testify against both of the accused persons. Because of that we need to look at the evidence that we have as well as the law and strategise on how to present cases against the accused persons. We feel we cannot do that between today and Friday as a lot of documents are involved.

“Even though our suggestion is to proceed against the first accused person in relation to counts one to 12, the evidence that we have against the second accused person which we will disclose to the defence has a bearing on the counts that relate to the first accused person. So, we need to look at the impact on the first accused,” Matemba told the court.

However, defence lead counsel, Tamando Chokotho, who agreed with the request for adjournment said the defence was not aware of the State’s application for split trial.

Chokotho said the suggestion was not clear on how to proceed with Whiskey.

He also hinted on the right of the second accused to attend court proceedings and the need for Whiskey to be informed which could not happen in her absence.

Chokotho then requested for a formal application saying it was difficult to comment on the split trial application that is not comprehensible.

High Court Judge Maclean Kamwambe adjourned the case to May 3, 2016 before telling the two parties to meet in his chamber on April 29 for hearing of formal application for split trial.

Defence counsel was in the third day of cross-examining the first state witness Victor Banda when Whiskey became ill.

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