The High Court in Lilongwe yesterday deferred hearing of an application for bail by convicted former principal secretary Tressa Senzani, describing the action as premature.
In her ruling on the matter, High Court Judge Ivy Kamanga said the action by the defence to seek bail pending an appeal in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal was premature because documents submitted to the court did not contain the grounds for appeal.
Senzani, formerly principal secretary for Tourism and Culture, has become the first person to be found guilty and convicted in relation to the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill widely known as Cashgate.
Last week, Kamanga sentenced Senzani to three years in jail on her own plea of guilty on charges of diverting K64 million of taxpayer funds to a private company she admitted to own.
Necton Mhura, lawyer representing Senzani, yesterday did not provide the grounds of appeal.
But soon after the court ruling last week, Mhura indicated his intention to appeal, describing the sentence as severe in wake of the fact that Senzani admitted to have committed the crime and her decision to refund the money she had stolen.
Ruling on the bail application yesterday, Kamanga said she was adjourning the matter to a later date to allow the defence team to prepare the grounds of appeal.
Said Kamanga: “I adjourn the matter to a later date as the application by the defence team is premature.”
She said the court files only contained a notice of appeal without any grounds of appeal.
Mhura said in an interview yesterday he would make a fresh application and he is expecting to do it as soon as possible.
He said: “I think it was just an error. We had all the documentation, I think it [the grounds of appeal] was just misplaced.”
In a separate interview, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) senior prosecution officer Imran Saidi explained that in any bail application, it should state reasons of appeal.
Mhura said he was not satisfied with the custodial sentence by the court handed his client.
He said Senzani was the first offender, hence deserved a non-custodial sentence as in first place she pleaded guilty of all charges and made full restitution of money she had stolen from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.