Businessman Thomson Mpinganjira will today appear before two courts, the Supreme Court of Appeal in the morning and, later in the afternoon, the High Court, to proceed with his defence in the judge bribery case.
Mpinganjira is answering charges of attempts to bribe High Court judges who were hearing the 2019 presidential election case.
He has, however, asked the Supreme Court of Appeal to rule that the case is a mistrial after High Court Judge hearing the bribery case Dorothy DeGabriele refused to recuse herself in the case when allegations of impropriety were levelled against her.
He is asking the Supreme Court to nullify all the proceedings in the judge bribery case before the High Court.
Anti-Corruption Bureau lawyer Reyneck Matemba—who is also the country’s Solicitor General—disclosed this but added that the State is going to object to the application filed at the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“In the first place, we did not agree that the judge should recuse herself and we do not agree that the case should be nullified. That is not necessary but we will leave it to the court,” he said.
DeGabriele declined to recuse herself in the case, saying Mpinganjira’s application for her to excuse herself was brought with ill-intention.
She, however, allowed Mpinganjira to proceed to appeal to the Supreme Court while continuing with the hearing of the bribery case at the High Court.
Mpinganjira accused DeGabriele of impropriety, saying the judge and President Judge of the High Court Sylvester Kalembera were offering to help him out if Mpinganjira gave them K300 million.
According to Mpinganjira, following DeGabriele’s refusal, the case should be nullified, declared a mistrial and that everything should start again with a new judge.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Mpinganjira’s second witness did not show up in the court to testify as planned and the witness has since been dispensed. This means Mpinganjira remains with one witness, who is expected to testify today,
Mpinganjira’s lawyer Patrice Nkhono said it was normal for a witness not to turn up and that the judge was informed of the reason for the witness’s no-show.
“We have told the judge the reason the witness could not come and the reason is part of the same things we were discussing Wednesday; as such, the judge understood us,” he said.
Mpinganjira stands accused of attempting to bribe five judges who heard the presidential election case to rule in favour of former president Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission.
The case has not been without drama as, along the way, Mpinganjira claimed that he had been donating huge sums of money to almost all prominent political parties including Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), UTM and Peoples Party and that, as such, he was going to be okay with whoever were to win.
He also claimed that DPP and the MCP approached him to take up leadership positions.