By Wezzie Gausi
A panel of seven justices of the Supreme Court of Appeal has pended the verdict on the appeal by former minister of Justice and attorney general Raphael Kasambara on his conviction of conspiracy to murder.
Kasambara was convicted alongside Pika Manondo and MacDonald Kumwembe for murder and conspiracy to murder the then budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
The three appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal against the conviction and sentencing.
Lawyer representing Manondo and Kumwembe, Micheal Goba Chipeta, said the judgement the High Court gave was a collection of inferences based on speculations that the accused made.
He said the evidence that the High Court heard was not supported by tangible evidence.
“I want my clients to be acquitted because there was no evidence provided in the court below. We are challenging the conviction and the sentencing and it is our prayer that the Supreme Court will consider our arguments.
“We also argued that basing the conviction on call logs was wrong as the people involved in the calls could have been discussing other things,” Chipeta said.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steve Kayuni said the State wanted the Supreme Court to uphold the judgement that the subordinate court made.
“We have told the courts the reasons why the appellant should not be acquitted as the High Court already gave its verdict. We have argued our case and we are waiting for the court to give out its judgement,” Kayuni said.
Judge Michael Mtambo convicted the three and jailed Kasambara for 13 years while Manondo and Kumwembe were handed a 15-year imprisonment sentence with hard labour.
The three appealed against their conviction and applied for bail pending the conclusion of the appeal case in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
On March 14 2018, Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Dunstan Mwaungulu released Kasambara on bail.
Immediately after the ruling, the then director of public prosecutions, Mary Kachale, asked the court to postpone its decision to free Kasambara on bail but the court asked her to make a formal application.
The shooting of Mphwiyo in 2013 opened a can of worms, leading to the arrest of several public workers.