Forgotten inmate finally gets bail

 

The High Court in Mzuzu has bailed Wilson Kambonje, 45, who has spent eight years at Mzuzu Prison without trial.

The murder suspect temporality walked free after Justice Dorothy De Gabriele first heard the case behind closed doors on Monday.

Lawyer Christon Ghambi, executive director of Knowledge of the Laws of the Land (Knoll), took the case after The Nation exposed the plight of the person detained in Rumphi on February 10 2010.

In an interview, Ghambi described the ruling as “triumph of justice”.

Ghambi: It’s a triumph of justice

Last week, senior State advocate Dziko Malunda argued against the bail application, saying they experience difficulties tracing and prosecuting homicide suspects on bail.

But De Gabrielle on Thursday said it was in the interest of justice to grant Kamboje bail because the State breached Section 161(G) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code which limits pre-trial custody to 90 days.

Her judgement reads: “The applicant has been in custody for eight years now and the State has not at any time made any application to extend that time limit.

“The arguments by the State that it is difficult to prosecute homicide suspects because most of them cannot be traced or do not attend court hearings should not be the reason to reject the granting of bail universally.”

Kamboje got the relief on condition that he tender sureties of K50 000 and two honest people.

De Gabrielle also ordered Kamboje to surrender travel documents and to report to the nearest police station fortnightly.

She ordered the State to finalise procedures for the long-awaited trial to commence by May, an order Malunda said was well-reasoned.

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