The Attorney General (AG) is asking the High Court’s Civil Registry in Blantyre to dismiss with costs a K3.4 billion claim by former president Peter Mutharika’s bodyguard, Norman Chisale.
Chisale, after his acquittal in April 2022 in a case he was accused of attempted murder emanating from a shooting incident in Chimwankhunda, Blantyre, sued government for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and defamation.
After the acquittal by the High Court, Chisale, who faced the charge of attempted murder of a woman, Sigele Amani, filed a demand letter to the AG, Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda, seeking a K500 million out-of-court settlement within 90 days, but the AG opted to challenge the claim.
Chisale went on to sue the government in July 2022 claiming K3.4 billion, and the case, where the AG and Malawi Police Service are defendants, is being presided over by Justice Mike Tembo.
The AG, in his defence filed with the court, argues that there was no malice in the commencement of prosecution against Chisale as alleged in the claim statement.
Chakaka-Nyirenda further denies that the charges against the claimant were trumped up.
Argues the AG: “The defendant pleads that there was reasonable and probable cause that the claimant shot at the victim, namely, Miss. Sigele Amani, with a live bullet and that there was transferred malice when [he] shot at Miss. Sigele Amani.
“The defendant denies that the claimant’s file at Soche Police Station was changed from accidental shooting to murder following the change of the regime. The defendant avers that the investigations were never completed [out of influence of the claimant because of the position he held as director of security for the former Head of State.”
The AG says the claimant possessed too much influence over security institutions and State organs at all material times to the extent of influencing any criminal investigations against him.
Claims Chakaka-Nyirenda: “The defendant denies that the police forced Miss. Sigele Amani to change her witness statement as alleged by the claimant. To the contrary, the defendant pleads that following his release from detention on court bail, the defendant tampered with the State’s witnesses to change their witness statements and to become hostile witnesses and to be absent from court respectively during the trial of the claimant.
“The defendant further pleads that the claimant corruptly influenced the State witnesses to change their testimony in court and that he intimidated some of the State witnesses.”
The defendant, the AG further argues, pleaded that the bribery, intimidation and tampering of State witnesses prompted the State to apply for the revocation of the claimant’s bail pending conclusion of the claimant’s trial.
But the High Court, which was being presided over by Sylvester Kalembera, now promoted as Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeal, had rebuffed the State’s application to revoke Chisale’s bail.
Chakaka-Nyirenda says the claimant’s acquittal of the charges that were levelled against him was as a result of the claimant’s illegal and unlawful conduct.
The AG says the fact that the claimant was acquitted from the criminal charges, was not a ground for maintaining an action of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
He is asking the court to dismiss Chisale’s claim with costs.
But Chisale, had argued earlier through his lawyer Chancy Gondwe that the conduct of the State by arresting and prosecuting him was aimed at harassing him.
He argued that he is entitled to compensation claims for damages due to “the reckless, oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional behaviour” of the defendant.
Reads the statement of the case in part: “The claimant claims the sum of K924 000 000 as damages for false imprisonment having been in custody for 264 hours. The claimant claims damages for malicious prosecution estimated at K500 000 000.
“The claimant also claims damages for aggravated and punitive/exemplary damages estimated at K2 000 000 000. The claimant also suffered special damages in defending the criminal matter being legal costs amounting to K24 000 000 in defending the malicious prosecution.”
Chisale was arrested on July 17 2020 and released on court bail on July 28 2020 in connection with the shooting of Amani on May 21, 2020, in Chimwankhunda Dam residential area.