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Supreme Court frees Thom Mpinganjira on bail

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Justice of Supreme Court of Appeal Frank Kapanda has granted bail to businessman Thom Mpinganjira, pending his appeal on his conviction and sentence.

Mpinganjira was convicted and jailed in October last year in a case in which he was accused of attempting to bribe judges that were handling the case on the contentious presidential election of May 2019.

He was charged under the Corrupt Practices Act.

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In December last year, Mpinganjira applied to the High Court for bail pending appeal against his conviction at the Supreme Court.

But his application was dismissed with costs, with Judge John Chira arguing his grounds were not worthwhile.

However, on December 23, 2021 Mpinganjira through his lawyers Fostino Maele and Alexious Nampota applied to the Supreme Court of Appeal for bail pending hearing and determination of his appeal.

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Friday, in a ruling made in the chambers in Blantyre, Kapanda released Mpinganjira on bail pending the hearing and determination on his application by the Supreme Court.

According to the judgment, the determination has been made pursuant to section 24 of the Supreme Court of Appeal Act.

“On the part of this Court and in the interest of justice as well as for the protection of the Appellant’s rights as envisaged in Section 42 of the Constitution of Malawi, this Court allows the application for bail pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.

“The Appellant will thus be released on bail pending the hearing and determination of his appeal on signing a bond with the State on the terms as they were imposed in the court,” reads part of the court judgment.

Kapanda has however called for the fast tracking of the determination of the appeal case.

He has also ordered Mpinganjira to attend the hearing of the appeal or in default the court will revoke his bail.

Speaking after the judgement, the defence expressed satisfaction with the ruling.

And lawyer representing the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Victor Chiwala said the State will wait for the actual hearing of the matter.

“We have accepted the ruling. People make appeals to a ruling; it is up to the court to decide on the appeal. The court has made a determination. There is nothing we can do other than wait for the actual hearing. We will not appeal the ruling. I cannot say we agree with the ruling but the court has made its determination. Some arguments agreed with us; on other argument, the court agreed with the defence,” he said.

Mpinganjira is serving a 9-year jail term at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre.

In October last year, High Court Judge Dorothy DeGabrielle convicted Mpinganjira on two counts of corruption.

ACB arrested Mpinganjira in January 2020 for attempting to bribe five High Court judges sitting as the Constitutional Court. It is reported that he wanted them to favour ex-president and Democratic Progressive Party candidate Peter Mutharika in their ruling on the 2019 presidential election case.

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