Business tycoon Thomson Mpinganjira Tuesday asked Judge Dorothy DeGabriele to recuse herself in the judge bribery case he is answering.
Through his lawyer Patrice Nkhono, Mpinganjira said there are allegations of impropriety against DeGabriele and Judge President of the High Court Sylvester Kalembera.
“There are recordings of phone conversations and transcripts thereof of offers being made to Mpinganjira if the case is to reach a favourable conclusion. There is a text message from you Your Lordship [DeGabriele] and Judge President [Kalembera] assuring the defendant of a favourable ruling.
“In this case, there is a likelihood of bias against the defendant. We are not saying that the allegations are true or not but, even if they are true or not, clearing your name would not only mean that justice is served but also that it is seen to be served,” he said.
But, addressing the court, lead prosecutor Reyneck Matemba said the allegations of impropriety against DeGabriele and Kalembera were baseless, wild and only aimed at delaying the trial.
“This is just a strategy employed by the defendant to delay and derail the case. He raised similar accusations against Justice Mike Tembo, Healey Potani and Justice Redson Kapindu but the allegations were dismissed for lack of credibility,” he said.
DeGabriele has reserved her ruling on the application to today.
Solicitor General Matemba continues acting as lead prosecutor after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions gave him the green light.
Although Mpinganjira’s lawyer did not object to the arrangement outright, he did not rule out the possibility of applying to the court to bar Matemba from continuing with the case.
“We may have to come back to this point later, if need be, but we find this to be unusual. ACB is by law independent and bringing in the Solicitor General is equal to Executive interference. The ACB has a Deputy Director who has all the powers to appoint a prosecutor for the case,” he said.
Matemba, however, said this is not unusual as the DPP has the powers to appoint him or anyone as prosecutor.
He also said it was his former employer, the ACB, which wrote the DPP asking it to appoint him.