Newly sworn in Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda on Tuesday asked defence and prosecution lawyers to address some legal issues before he makes a decision in the K1.7 billion ($3.8 million) corruption case against former president Bakili Muluzi.
The case came before Nyirenda after Muluzi’s lead lawyer, Tamando Chokotho, told High Court judge Maclean Kamwambe that he wanted the case to go to the Constitutional Court as per Rule 8(1) of the Courts (High Court) (Procedure on the interpretation of Application of the Constitution) Rule.
Chokotho said he felt the issues being raised in the case were constitutional in nature.
Following Chokotho’s application, the High Court in Blantyre suspended the case where the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is prosecuting Muluzi and his then personal assistant Violet Whisky for allegedly diverting K1.7 billion public funds into the former president’s personal account.
Muluzi was president of Malawi between 1994 and 2004.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula and ACB deputy director general Reyneck Matemba confirmed in separate interviews yesterday that Nyirenda has since adjourned the case to August 14 2015 for continued hearing.
Matemba said the Chief Justice deferred his decision on the matter after noting that some pertinent issues were not adequately addressed.
Muluzi’s legal team presented three arguments which it wants Nyirenda to rule on.
First, Muluzi’s lawyers argue that his successor, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, interfered with the operations of ACB by ordering his arrest on corruption charges when the body had no intention to carry out the arrest.
Second, the lawyers say the case was politically-motivated because Muluzi was continuously being harassed through arrests.
And in the third ground, the lawyers question the conduct of the offices of the ACB and the Attorney General (AG) in the matter.
If Nyirenda decides that the case is constitutional, a three-judge panel will be appointed to hear the matter.
Muluzi’s case started in 2009 and has now taken about six years due to numerous adjournments mainly attributed to the former president’s illness and objections from the defence.