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Supreme Court dismisses Thomson Mpinganjira

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Reyneck Matemba

The Supreme Court of Appeal Thursday dismissed businessman Thomson Mpinganjira’s application to nullify the judge bribery case, which High Court Judge Dorothy DeGabriele is presiding over.

DeGabriele declined to recuse herself in the case, saying Mpinganjira’s application for her to recuse herself was brought with ill intention.

Mpinganjira accused the judge of impropriety, saying she and President Judge of the High Court Sylvester Kalembera were offering to help him out if he would give them K300 million.

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According to Mpinganjira, following the recusal, the case should be nullified, be declared a mistrial so that everything can start again before a new judge.

But Justice Mzikamanda has ruled that proceedings before DeGabriele should continue and that the Supreme Court of Appeal would deal with its consequences later.

“In this case, the wheels of justice are in motion. There must be valid reasons for this court to stop such proceedings. I have looked at arguments from both sides and I do not see such reasons,” he said.

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Mzikamanda said a trial within a trial is not good in this case, and that Mpinganjira could appeal on DeGabriele’s refusal to recuse herself before a full bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Mpinganjira’s lawyer Patrice Nkhono said the appeal on DeGabriele’s refusal to recuse herself would surely go to the full bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

He, however, said he would consult his client on whether to take Mzikamanda’s refusal to stop the proceedings to the full bench.

“This appeal will surely be heard by the full bench but we will take our client’s advice on whether to take Justice Mzikamanda’s ruling too to the full bench. Otherwise, the matter before Judge DeGabriele continues but, as you heard the Justice in the court, she must only look at facts relating to the matter and the applicable law. We hope that she will not be emotional that we tried to remove her from the case,” he said.

Anti-Corruption Bureau lawyer Reyneck Matemba said he was satisfied with the ruling, adding that he would not tolerate any further delays.

Later in the day, when the matter returned before DeGabriele for the continuation of hearing, Mpinganjira’s third and final witness did not show up to testify.

Mpinganjira’s second witness also did not show up before the court on Wednesday.

This means both sides have concluded their cases and the court has set June 30 for final submissions.

In the end, out of the four witnesses Mpinganjira indicated that he would call [that is, him inclusive], he managed to call two and this includes himself.

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