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Thomson Mpinganjira in no show, ruling fails

Judge hears case March 22

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The High Court sitting in Blantyre Tuesday failed to deliver its ruling on whether business tycoon Thomson Mpinganjira has a case to answer in the judge bribery case.

Registrar Gladys Gondwe confirmed the development Tuesday, saying lawyers for the two parties would meet Judge Dorothy DeGabriele virtually on March 22.

“Dr Mpinganjira was not able to avail himself of the court; so, the meeting on March 22 will be for his lawyers to update the court on the possibility of him appearing before the court

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and, depending on that, the court will give direction on the actual date for the ruling,” she said.

Gondwe could, however, not shed light on why Mpinganjira did not avail himself of the court, referring The Daily Times to defence lawyers.

Mpinganjira’s lead lawyer Patrice Nkhono did not pick his mobile phone when we tried to get in touch with him.

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Mpinganjira himself declined to comment on the matter, insisting that his lawyers were in a good position to do so.

“You know that we do not talk about matters that are before the court. Talk to my lawyers. You want to have me arrested?” he said.

Mpinganjira is being accused of attempting to bribe the panel of five judges who were hearing the presidential election case to rule in favour of former President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Electoral Commission.

All the five judges testified against Mpinganjira in the case, including justices Mike Tembo and Healey Potani who Mpinganjira allegedly contacted.

In his testimony, Tembo said Mpinganjira had asked him to carry a parcel of money to Potani, who would then share the money with all members of the panel.

“Dr Mpinganjira said he wanted to verify if the initial money which the DPP was sending to us was, indeed, reaching us and also, as it turned out that the money was not reaching us, he undertook to make sure that this particular parcel reached us. He said he did not want to fail to deliver the parcel as others in the past had failed,” he said.

Tembo also said in court that, when he asked Mpinganjira about the amount of money previously sent to the judges for sharing, Mpinganjira said “it was in excess of K100 million”.

He also claimed that he did not contact Mpinganjira at all but that Mpinganjira contacted him four times and that, in the totality of the conversations, Mpinganjira said there was a parcel which he wanted Tembo to take to Potani, who was chairing the five-judge panel, who would in turn share with the entire panel.

But, in cross examination, Tembo conceded that he did not actually see the parcel but said, based on Mpinganjira’s tone, he believed that the parcel really existed.

Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda took the matter to the Anti-Corruption Bureau after the five judges reported that Mpinganjira was making moves on them.

The judges later nullified May 21 2019 presidential election results, a judgement the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld.

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